EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - AUGUST 23: Saquon Barkley #26 of the New York Giants runs drill at NY Giants Quest Diagnostics Training Center on August 23, 2020 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Losing Saquon Barkley for the season will adversely affect the New York Giants for the remainder of 2020, and potentially beyond.

Jason Leach

Nobody expected the New York Giants to be a playoff team in 2020. But ownership and fans expected the team to at least improve on its win total from a season ago and play meaningful games in the second half of the year.

Nonetheless, all of that seemed to go up in smoke on Sunday when Saquon Barkley tore his ACL in the Giants’ 17-13 loss to the Chicago Bears.

Losing Barkley is devastating, considering he’s clearly the Giants’ best player and one that opposing teams spend hours game-planning against. Head coach Joe Judge will have his team ready to compete each week, but it seems Big Blue is destined for its fourth consecutive losing season.

Here’s a deeper look at what losing Barkley for the year will mean for this organization.

It could stunt the development of Daniel Jones

With Barkley out, teams will focus their attention, even more, on shutting down Daniel Jones and the passing game. Jones was already off to a rough start to begin with, having turned the ball over four times. Now, he’ll be without his top playmaker.

Jones may feel added pressure to carry the offense in Barkley’s absence and may take more chances than he usually would. Not having Saquon will certainly hinder Jones’ development as defenses have already seemed to pick up on some of his tendencies.

Possible contract conflict

Prior to his injury, the expectation was that Barkley would seek a contract extension after the season, just like running backs Ezekiel Elliott, Dalvin Cook, and Alvin Kamara did after their respective third seasons in the league.

Barkley and his agent may still seek an extension in the offseason, but would the Giants give in to his demands? As talented as Barkley is, he’s been unable to maximize his full potential due to poor offensive-line play.

Now, he’d be coming off a major injury and won’t have played a full 16-game schedule since his rookie campaign. The Giants front office could use these reasons to not give Barkley an extension if he looks for one, and it’s never an ideal situation when there’s a contract dispute involving your best player.

It could spell the end for Dave Gettleman as GM

The decision by Dave Gettleman to take Barkley with the second overall pick in the 2018 draft has been revisited numerous times over the past few seasons. Now, that decision is becoming highlighted even more amid Barkley’s injury.

Many general managers share the sentiment that taking a running back with the second pick is too high considering the position’s overall devaluation along with the wear-and-tear running backs endure.

What made taking Barkley second overall even more head-scratching is that Gettleman came to this decision when Eli Manning was 37 years old and playing with a mediocre offensive line. The Giants are 10-25 with Gettleman as their general manager and all of his decisions are coming into question now more than ever, but it’s this one that might end up sealing his fate.

The Giants could be in for a historically bad season

It’s being reported that the Giants will look to sign former Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman to help replace Barkley. Whether it’s Freeman or Wayne Gallman that becomes the lead back, neither is the same caliber player as Saquon. Gallman and Freeman are talented, but they don’t strike fear in opposing defenses.

Without Barkley, you have to wonder how many games the Giants will be favored to win this year. Their schedule is brutal — they face the toughest division in football in the NFC West and they additionally have to take part in three more matchups with the AFC North, all against Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks.

When you factor in that the Giants already have issues within their own division — they haven’t defeated the Eagles or Cowboys since 2016 — you begin to realize that this could be a very long season. In 2017, the Giants recorded a franchise-worst 13 losses, a mark that could be in jeopardy in 2020.

NYY

NYM

NYG

NYJ

NYK

BKN

NYR

NYI

NJD

SJU