When the New York Giants selected Penn State running back Saquon Barkley with the second overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, then-general manager Dave Gettleman was heavily criticized.
How, in the modern NFL, could Gettleman place that sort of value on a running back? They were a dime a dozen in the eyes of many.
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As talented and dynamic as Barkley was, he was still just a running back.
Even after Barkley had a monster season and won the 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, the questions wouldn’t cease. And the harder Gettleman pushed back, the more intense the criticisms became.
Gettleman is now several years removed from his rush-out-the-door “retirement” but his stance on Barkley hasn’t changed. Despite the many injuries and issues with drops, the former Giants GM still believes he made the right call on Barkley.
Not only that, but Gettleman believes Barkley’s value can’t be measured analytically and that he should, contrary to popular belief, be given a big-money, long-term contract.
“The style of play in the NFL has certainly evolved in the 60 years I’ve been watching. But there are certain principles that have not changed, and those are: protect the quarterback, sack the quarterback, run the ball in key spots, and stop the run,” Gettleman told the Boston Globe this week. “Those are key points, basic principles, and they have not changed.
“When you build a team, on offense, about the quarterback, it’s about the offensive line and it’s about touchdown scorers. “Saquon Barkley is a touchdown scorer from anywhere on the field. And, oh by the way, via land or air, he can be in the army or he can be in the air force. You can’t put that in an analytic formula. I know that every time Saquon touches the ball. There aren’t a ton of those guys, they’re rare.”
Barkley is a very talented player when healthy, but current Giants general manager Joe Schoen doesn’t subscribe to the same ideology as Gettleman. For him, there was a limit to what you can pay a running back and Barkley found that out this offseason.
Although he was seeking a long-term contract, the Giants drew a line in the sand and would not cross it. Ultimately, the two sides settled on an altered franchise tag — one year for up to $11 million total ($909,000 in added incentives).
Barkley is currently missing times due to an ankle sprain and dropped two passes (both leading to interceptions) over the first two games of the season.