The star running back had a good day — 63 rush yards, 29 receiving yards, two touchdowns — in Big Blue’s come-from-behind 31-28 win over the Cardinals. But he was injured in the waning moments. X-rays were negative and the Giants believe it is just a normal ankle sprain, rather than one of the dreaded high ankle variety.
But still: The MRI has yet to be done. A regular sprain is no walk in the park. There is not much time before Thursday’s short-week game at the 49ers. And, fair or not, now everything about Barkley’s past, present and future must be relitigated.
Quickly: Barkley’s franchise tag add-on. He needs to rush for 1,350 yards, grab 65 receptions, scores 11 total touchdowns and have the Giants make the playoffs to max out his incentives. He now needs 1,236 yards, 56 catches and nine touchdowns in the final 15 games (and it seems likely he will miss at least one of them). And the Giants need to make the playoffs after looking pretty bad so far. It’s not what you want.
The bigger picture: Barkley should have taken the $23 million in reported guaranteed money the Giants put on the table as their final offer before the tag deadline. Because he is now realizing his worst fears and proving his point. The Giants do not want to break the bank with Barkley because he is injury-prone and running backs do not have long shelf lives. Point and point. His relatively healthy 2022 season is now looking like it may have been a blip. And if one of his backups shines — or even just performs at an adequate level — during whatever absence he has? Barkley’s future here becomes even murkier.
So here we go. Again.