Will Saquon Barkley actually remain with the Giants for the 2022 season?
The Giants need to make moves to clear cap space — that’s what happens when your recently “retired” general manager overspends and puts you in salary cap hell.
One of the obvious moves from a financial standpoint (and just from a general standpoint, given his injury history and recent lack of production) would be to seek a trade partner for running back Saquon Barkley.
But despite the fact a new general manager (Joe Schoen) is leading the front office, Big Blue isn’t expected to do that.
Yes — sadly, you read that right.
From NFL Now: While the #Giants aren't expected to trade Saquon Barkley, CB James Bradberry could be had in a trade. Teams are expected to inquire about the former big ticket FA, who is in the last year of his deal. pic.twitter.com/EoRXfLWwyy
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 4, 2022
“Saquon Barkley is not expected to be traded,” NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis Friday. “Doesn’t seem like teams have called; doesn’t seem like [Joe Schoen] has listened if they have. I don’t believe Saquon is going anywhere…”
If a trade was to come to fruition, the Giants would likely receive nothing more than a fourth-round pick for the soon-to-be fifth-year back. Barkley has dealt with injuries in each of the last three seasons, including the 2020 campaign when he missed 14 games due to an ACL tear. Not to mention, he hasn’t been the explosive, powerful back that can produce in the passing game that he was during his 2018 rookie year.
Given all of that, along with the running back position’s general decline in value, it’s tough to imagine the Giants would be getting anything significant in return for his services. Not to mention, any team that trades for Saquon would be acquiring a running back who’s in the final year of his rookie deal — an option year in which he’s guaranteed $7.2 million.
However, one player the Giants could move on from this offseason is cornerback James Bradberry. He may be the best of the players the Giants could possibly make a trade piece, but taking the cap situation (a current projected $5.8 million over the cap, per Spotrac) into consideration, it would be best to at least consider sending Bradberry away for a draft pick or two.
“One player who may end up getting traded, certainly will be the subject of trade calls, is James Bradberry,” Rapoport additionally said. “The big-ticket free agent from several years ago — still playing at a very high level, due $13 million — he is expected to be a player that teams are going to call about and potentially the Giants will listen.
“He’s due a big salary, he’s in the last year of his contract. But he is at a position of need for so many teams…I would not be surprised if Bradberry is on the move in some form or fashion.”
The cornerback, who the Giants inked to a three-year deal ahead of the 2020 campaign, is set to be responsible for a $21.9 million cap hit with a $13.4 million base salary next season.
Yes, he’s a Pro Bowler. Yes, he’s the team’s current top cornerback.
But keeping Bradberry on that salary may not be the best decision for a team that’s in the situation the Giants are currently in (thanks, Dave Gettleman).
Whether fans want to admit this or not: the Giants are in rebuild mode. I understand the New York market is impatient; I literally live and breathe it. But the Giants aren’t a win-now team. They must consider parting ways with various costly players entering the final years of their deals — Bradberry included.
The Giants making Sterling Shepard a cap casualty should be the obvious move considering it would free up a little more than $4.5 million in cap space for 2022.
However, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN, New York is actually looking to rework Shepard’s current deal, which he signed prior to the 2019 season.
Giants have expressed a strong interest in having WR Sterling Shepard return on reworked deal, per sources. Shepard, off torn Achilles, is open to a return. Should be a reasonable middle ground.
The good news: Shepard on pace to return by at least early summer, perhaps earlier.
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) March 4, 2022
The new deal would lead to Shepard taking a pay cut, which would be reasonable given his injury history (he’s missed 20 combined games over the last three years) and the fact he’s coming off an Achilles tear suffered late this past season.
I (sort of) understand wanting to roll the dice with him — he could be a reliable target if he remains healthy and is provided the right system.
But the health issues are too immense to overlook.
Cutting ties would be the most appropriate move — don’t pay an injury-prone wide receiver, which the Giants have done each of the last three seasons.
Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY