General manager Joe Schoen did not take his salary cap medicine to then hand big money to a running back with plenty of tread on the tires. Even if Barkley has a major bounce-back season, as many are predicting. If he has another injury-plagued year, the odds of a fresh start seem to outweigh the Giants giving him a low-stakes prove-it deal. And if the most likely outcome develops — Barkley has a solid year, but not a great one — there will be someone willing to overpay.
If anything, Schoen dealing Barkley at the trade deadline seems more realistic than re-signing him. They should have done it that in the offseason, of course. But better late than never.
In the meantime, Barkley has looked good the summer. And he seems to be eager to settle scores with his many detractors. He ranted about those who criticize his running style on Thursday.
“I know that’s been the conversation or the thought or the thing out there said about me, that ‘He doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s dancing back there,’” Barkley told reporters. “I’m really kind of fed up with people who never played the position and try to speak on how I run the football. We call them All-Pros with clickers in the hand.”
Barkley, of course, also said he was tired of “the BS that is said about me or this team” back in April.
Couple of thoughts: Barkley is not necessarily a “dancer.” But he has always been a bink-bink-boom runner. There are going to be a lot of runs for no or negative gain mixed in with the home runs. And when he runs behind an offensive line as bad as the Giants’ has been? That will be magnified.
Also: There should no longer be any debate. Barkley was a misfired pick at No. 2 in the 2018 NFL draft. And at no fault of his own. If you’re going to take a running back that high, you need to have a great offensive line already in place and a playoff-caliber roster established. The Cowboys had that when they took Ezekiel Elliott. And it worked for a few years, they got nothing out of it and now his contract is an albatross.
Barkley never had a chance here. That’s on general manager Dave Gettleman and co-owner John Mara. Because the only reason the Giants took Barkley was because the organization’s top priority was deluding itself that Eli Manning had another Super Bowl run left.
The overcorrection following Manning’s disgraceful 2017 benching and the ensuing fallout was arguably the most destructive event in recent local sporting history. The desire to prop up Manning tainted the GM search, then led to a horrible head coaching hire — Pat Shurmur probably didn’t even think he would win a Super Bowl here — and a slew of personnel misfires. The Giants would be in a better spot today even if they had taken Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen at No. 2.
Barkley may have a good season. But the idea head coach Brian Daboll can snap his fingers and make him play like a Gold Jacket Guy is silly. The quarterback isn’t very good, the receivers aren’t any good, the offensive line will only be that much better. Daboll’s scheme is good, but it is unlikely to turn Barkley into the transcendent player Gettleman sold him to be — and the one he needs to be for the Giants to move heaven and earth to keep him beyond this season.
That all said, Barkley is clearly going to try. He is healthy and plans to come out swinging. And if needed, go down that way too. The Hand of God is bringing a hammer. That has to excite the Giants. But it probably will not change what feels inevitable.
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James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]