Saquon Barkley has been quite quiet of late.
The Giants’ star running back did not take a single snap in the preseason. And he only met with reporters once during training camp after capitulating in his contract standoff with the team. But now it is go time. The regular season starts Sunday night at the Cowboys. And so does Barkley’s push to prove the Giants — or someone else — should give him a big deal next offseason.
If Barkley can max out his revised franchise tag deal, he would likely do that. But to get the full $11 million will require him to have not just a career year, but reach a level few backs have managed in recent history.
Barkley’s reported incentive structure maxes out if he rushes for 1,350 yards, has 65 receptions, scores 11 touchdowns and the Giants make the playoffs, according to Pro Football Reference.
Only five running backs have accomplished all four since 2000. Marshall Faulk did it twice with the Rams in 2000-01. Tiki Barber did it with the Giants in 2002. The Chiefs’ Priest Holmes did it in 2003. Ray Rice did it for the Ravens in 2011. And the Steelers’ LeVeon Bell did it in 2014.
Barkley has had injury issues in the past. He has never had 1,350 rush yards. He broke 65 receptions and 11 touchdowns once, as a rookie. And the Giants seem ripe for regression. So this will be a challenge.
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