Saquon Barkley
Syndication: The Record

Giants running back Saquon Barkley hasn’t made too much of an impact in recent years. His 2018 rookie campaign saw him lead the league with 2,028 scrimmage yards. But injuries, lackluster coaching, and poor offensive line play have prevented him from making too much noise ever since.

The narrative surrounding Barkley’s on-field capabilities was once overwhelmingly positive but has taken a turn for the worst. Those who may have purchased his jersey back in 2018 have now become legitimate doubters of the former No. 2 overall pick.

The young back is using this as motivation, and believes he can even surpass the level he reached during his first season.

“Do I feel like I’m back? I feel like I’m better, to be completely honest,” Barkley said on the “2nd Wind” podcast, via The Post. “I’m older now, I’m 25. I’ve been through some stuff, ups and downs. Now I’m in a situation where, you know me, I always have the mindset of always being counted out. But now it’s actually here, it’s actually real. People are really counting me out. People are trying to write me off.”

There’s at least some optimism Barkley is going to put his money where his mouth is. Especially considering he’s nearly two years removed from his 2020 ACL tear and in a new Brian Daboll offense that will look to maximize his talents.

But even if Barkley is that stud back again, would it matter much?

Sure it would be fun to watch at times, but the running back position has lost much of its value in recent years. Barkley can be a star again but that won’t directly lead to victories. There’s still an average-to-below average starting quarterback, an unproven offensive line, and an overly expensive but not overly reliable “No. 1 wide receiver” also trotting out onto the field. Not to mention the inexperienced secondary that could literally make or break the entire Giants defense.

If Barkley plays well but the team is no good, general manager Joe Schoen won’t put a dent in the much-needed rebuild by giving a running back a lucrative second contract. If the team is good but Barkley isn’t much of a difference-maker, letting him walk would be a no-brainer.

The only scenario in which Barkley remains with Big Blue in 2023 is if he impresses and the team wins games, and Schoen wants to retain a foundation of players on the roster, Barkley included.

If anything, Barkley could be auditioning for the rest of the NFL this season, because it’s tough to imagine both he and the team succeeding. A phenomenal 2022 campaign could lead an actual playoff contender to sign him next offseason.

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