saquon barkley giants
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The Giants have reportedly decided to exercise running back Saquon Barkley’s fifth-year option ahead of the 2021 season.

Saquon Barkley is locked in through at least the 2022 season.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Giants have exercised the young running back’s fifth-year option.

The option is set to carry a cap hit of $7.2 million in 2022, which is less than his 2021 cap hit of $10.03 million.

Barkley is currently rehabbing an ACL tear suffered in last year’s Week 2 loss to Chicago. He’s reportedly set to be ready for the beginning of the 2021 campaign and will hopefully return to his 2018 rookie-year form — him doing so would assist in the development of quarterback Daniel Jones and the improvement of the offensive unit as a whole.

Picking up the 2018 first-round pick’s fifth-year option is a move that was widely expected and one that’s certainly correct.

If the Giants didn’t do this, they would’ve left themselves with two options in regard to the future of their starting running back.

They would’ve either decided not to extend him this offseason and had him enter the final year of his rookie contract or inked him to an extension so that he remained in East Rutherford for years to come — both routes would’ve introduced significant risk.

In the former scenario, there’s a chance Saquon could return to the field and put together a monstrous 2021 season but then depart to join another team in free agency next year.

In the latter scenario, the Giants would be paying the talented back a significant amount of money before he legitimately proves he can still be a star in this league that remains healthy. It’s also just a huge risk in general to provide a new contract to someone coming off two consecutive injury-plagued seasons.

The Giants need more time to make a decision on whether they want to retain Barkley for the long term; they need more information on him and a larger sample size of on-field performances.

Amid all the uncertainties, picking up the fifth-year option was the smartest and safest move, simple as that.

In his end-of-year press conference back in January, co-owner John Mara said he expects Barkley to remain a Giant “for a very long time.”

We’ll see if that’s eventually going to be the case.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.