Giants running back Saquon Barkley is looking to come back from an ACL tear in 2021 while currently eligible for a contract extension.
He missed 14 matchups last season and his lack of a presence surely made a difference — the Giants finished 31st in both total yards and points.
The fourth-year player is currently rehabbing in order to execute a smooth return, but his comeback isn’t the only story surrounding him.
Barkley has a lingering contract situation — he’s eligible for an extension and the Giants picked up his fifth-year option with the possible intent to extend him after the 2021 season.
Following the team’s mandatory minicamp practice Wednesday, Saquon addressed the noteworthy topic when speaking to the media.
“When it comes to the contract situation, that’s not even something that’s crossing my mind,” he said. “I have an amazing agent. Those are things I have conversations with her about. The only thing I’m focusing on is coming here every single day, working my butt off, and trying to get as ready as I can so when I’m able to get back out there, I’m 110% and I can perform to the best of my abilities for my team.”
Previous reports stated Barkley was on track to be ready for the start of the regular season. Barring a hiccup, there’s a possibility he could suit up against Denver Week 1 even though he declined to provide any sort of concrete timetable.
Saquon Barkley, speaking for the first time this year, declined to give a timetable for his return: "You know me, I’ll take it one day at a time. … It’s going to be whenever my body tells me I’m ready."
— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoSNY) June 9, 2021
However, that’s not to say he’ll take on the absolute bulk of the workload — the Giants may want to ease their most talented skill player back into the mix.
As far as the contract is concerned, it wouldn’t be smart to extend the 2018 No. 2 overall pick right now. Given he’s dealt with injuries each of the last two seasons and hasn’t returned to his rookie-year form, the Giants need to see if he’s still capable of remaining healthy and consistently portraying star-like abilities.
The organization couldn’t sign him to an extension before receiving answers to a number of questions it likely possesses. On the other hand, it didn’t want to risk him undergoing a sensational 2021 campaign and leaving in the subsequent offseason following the conclusion of his original four-year rookie deal.
Picking up the fifth-year option was obviously the correct move — it keeps him in East Rutherford through 2022 and provides the franchise with the most amount of time possible to see if its top running back is worth a long-term investment.