A Monday morning Tweet from the Giants’ Twitter account confirmed what fans of Big Blue were all fearing, Saquon Barkley has torn his ACL.
The superstar running back will have surgery to repair his ACL in the near future, but his 2020 campaign is over.
Saquon Barkley underwent an MRI of his right knee that confirmed a torn ACL. Barkley will undergo surgery to repair the injury in the near future.
— New York Giants (@Giants) September 21, 2020
This injury has a lot of implications for the Giants, and for Barkley, both now and in the future.
Who Do They Have Now?
As of 09/22, the Giants have two running backs on the active roster and one full back. The running backs include Wayne Gallman and Dion Lewis, while the fullback is Elijhaa Penny.
Gallman is entering his fourth year in the NFL, all with the Giants. The Clemson product has shown the ability to be a solid depth piece next to Barkley, but he has never really been able to get it going. Even last year, when Barkley went down with an ankle sprain, Gallman did not see much success aside from a week 4 win where he had 24 touches. Part of that has to do with the coaching staff, it almost appeared as if they froze him out of the offense in 2019. The other part had to do with an injury he sustained in week 5. With a new coaching staff, perhaps Gallman will see a bigger role this season in Barkley’s absence.
The other running back on the roster is the 2020 free-agent acquisition, Dion Lewis. Lewis has seen time with the Eagles, Patriots, and Titans in his NFL career, most notably the Patriots. He was a part of the Patriots 28-3 comeback over Atlanta a few years ago and has been a complimentary back to Derrick Henry for the past two seasons in Tennessee. The Brooklyn native is a valuable asset both on the ground and in the air. He can work out of the backfield, catching passes and dump-offs. However, Lewis stands 5’8”, and weighs in at 195 pounds, it would be a tall task for him to be the featured back in New York, especially at age 30. But asking him to come in and contribute throughout a drive appears to be right in his wheelhouse.
Elijhaa Penny has been a solid player at fullback for the G-Men. He comes in, makes his blocks, and does it well. I wouldn’t expect him to take many handoffs.
Other In-House Options Available
If the Giants aren’t satisfied with the running backs on their active roster, they can take a look at their practice squad. They have two running backs on the squad in Rod Smith and Sandro Platzgummer.
Smith is a veteran back at this point in his career. He found most of his success in Dallas, but he has made stops in Seattle, Tennessee, Oakland, and now New York. He could be someone the Giants see as an option to split snaps with Gallman and Lewis if they choose to have a three running back committee. If the Giants don’t want to trade assets for a player or pay anyone a substantial amount of money, Smith is the way to go.
Platzgummer is a rookie running back from Austria coming over via the International Player Pathway Program. The talent is there for Platzgummer, he was one of the best players in all of Europe. However, he is likely not ready to take NFL game snaps just yet. He is more of a “wait and see” kind of player with potential. Look for him in the future, not this season.
If Joe Judge and company don’t see the value on their practice squad, they could look towards free agency.
One free-agent running back clearly sticks out among those available, Devonta Freeman. Freeman was part of the Atlanta Falcons prolific running back tandem that helped them make it to the Superbowl in 2017. The tandem included himself and Tevin Coleman, who is now a 49er.
In 2019, Freeman averaged 46.9 yards per game. That ranked him 31st in the league. He also averaged 4.0 yards per attempt. For a comparison, Barkley averaged 77.2 yards per game and 4.6 yards per attempt.
According to Ian Rapport, the Giants are planning to visit and workout Freeman. If they can get him on board for a one-year deal, that is a home run.
With the likely season-ending injury to Saquon Barkley, the #Giants are bringing in reinforcements. Source says they plan to visit with and workout FA RB Devonta Freeman. The former #Falcons star spent the weekend with the #Eagles and should be with NYG today.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 21, 2020
What This Means for the Giants and Barkley Going Forward
Barkley was drafted with the second overall pick of the 2018 NFL draft, thus giving him a four-year deal with a fifth-year team option. After this season, Barkley and the Giants could have gone to the negotiating table and hammered out a new long-term extension if they wanted to. Now, with the injury sidelining him, that conversation is likely shelved until the next off-season.
If Barkley comes back and sets the league on fire in 2021, and the Giants find a way to win 8-9+ games; then there’s no debate, he should get his extension.
We all hope Saquon makes a full recovery and comes back incredible next season. For now, we await the Giants’ decisions going forward.
Get well soon, Saquon!
Featured Image: Anthony J. Causi / New York Post