One question mark the Denver Broncos have entering the offseason is at running back. Former second-round pick Javonte Williams has looked promising but suffered a major knee injury and his status and recovery remain unknown at this point and time. Also, with the Broncos expected to put an emphasis on the run game under newly hired head coach Sean Payton, adding a workhorse at running back might be a big need for them. One player who could fill this role and potentially interest the Broncos is New York Giants running back, Saquon Barkley.
Weight: 232 pounds
Experience: Five seasons in the NFL, all with the New York Giants
Saquon Barkley had an impressive career in college at Penn State and was viewed as one of the top overall prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft. He ended up going second overall to the New York Giants and has been one of the best backs in the league since then. In his five seasons in the NFL, Barkley has totaled 4,249 yards rushing, 29 career rushing touchdowns, and averaged 4.5 yards per carry. He also has 247 career receptions for 1,820 yards and an additional 8 career receiving touchdowns. Altogether, that is 6,069 all-purpose yards and 37 total touchdowns during Barkley’s career thus far.
This past season for the Giants, Barkley totaled 1,312 yards on the ground with 10 touchdowns while adding 57 receptions for 338 yards. Altogether, Barkley totaled 1,650 all-purpose yards this past season for the New York Giants offense.
Why it makes sense
With Sean Payton now running the Broncos' offense, a dynamic player like Barkley should intrigue him. He has already stated that he wants a good run game to make things easier for quarterback Russell Wilson. So, acquiring a back like Barkley would really help the Broncos achieve that goal. He’s a dynamic runner who is also a weapon in the passing game as well. We have seen how Payton used running back Alvin Kamara in the Saints passing game, so I think he would want to do the same with Barkley.
He would be getting a back who had the fourth-most rushing yards in the league this past season. Also, when you add in his receiving stats, he would be near the top as well. So, getting back of this quality would instantly improve the Broncos offense.
You also have to consider Javonte Williams injury. He suffered a major knee injury and is status for the start of the season is unknown at this time. Also, we do not know how he will recover from this knee injury and if he will return to his pre-injury form this season. With those unknowns, you cannot really consider Williams an early-season contributor at this point and time. So, getting a workhorse back like Barkley would allow the Broncos to bring Williams along slowly before eventually forming one of the better running back tandems in the league.
Payton has also utilized multiple backs in his offense during his coaching career, so this tandem approach would work out. Barkley would be your dynamic big-play back who contributes in the passing game while Javonte would be your short-yardage bruiser. I would be a perfect tandem and give the Broncos a strong rushing attack which Payton wants.
Why it does not make sense
While Barkley is an exciting back to watch and a dynamic player, he comes with some injury red flags. In week two of the 2020 season, Barkley suffered a torn ACL and a grade two MCL sprain during the Giants' week two matchup against the Chicago Bears. This obviously cost him his 2020 season, but it also impacted his 2021 season as well. He wasn’t 100% and did not look like the same explosive back they drafted at the second overall pick. Now, he did rebound and look much healthier this past season, but you always hate to see wear and tear like that on a running back’s knee.
Another reason why this does not make sense is the cost. The Broncos do not have a ton of cap space and have other needs they need to fill, specifically on the offensive line. Spending top money on a back would be a luxury the Broncos likely cannot afford right now. Especially with reports that Barkley is asking for $16 million dollars per year.
So, while adding Barkley would be a fun addition it likely would not be the best way for them to spend their resources. He would be a luxury addition for someone and unfortunately, the Broncos are not in that position currently.
I do think the Broncos are going to add to their backfield through free agency, but I do not see them dropping top dollar on a back like Barkley. His skill set makes him an ideal fit for Sean Payton’s offense, but again, he is a luxury the Broncos cannot afford at this time.
They need help along the offensive line, potentially re-signing or franchise-tagging defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones and whatever other needs Payton and Paton believe the Broncos need. So, spending big on a running back is likely not in the cards for the Broncos. I think we will see a cheaper addition paired with a rookie along with the rehabbing Javonte Williams and whatever other backs they have on their roster.
With all that said, if the Broncos were to show interest in Barkley, I would be pretty excited. I think he could flourish in an offense run by Sean Payton and really help the anemic Broncos offense.
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