See the picture above? It is not Saquon Barkley. It is someone you have never heard of. His name is Isiah Pacheco. He is the reason you cannot re-sign Barkley. Pacheco is the punchline to this joke of paying RB, and I save the best for last.
The unit I like the most this season is ironically the least important unit on the entire roster- running back. I am super bullish on Saquon Barkley here in 2022. Breida and Brightwell are good depth.UltimateNYG, 9/10/22 Season Preview
Yah, no one, least of all me, saw 5-1. But the call on Barkley’s stupendous comeback speaks for itself. Saquon Barkley is back and he is leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage. He is a fantasy owner’s dream. But he will be a cap nightmare.
The NFL General Manager does have a fantasy component to it. He has to allocate cap dollars the same way a fantasy drafter needs to distribute resources to players who will deliver points over cost. So what is great for the Giants in 2022 is going to be bad for ANYONE who signs Barkley to his next contract in 2023. You are not going to get #1 in the NFL yards. He will invariably get hurt. Barkley is healthy this year. Yet all we have to do is go back to last game, watching Barkley grimacing in pain in between plays against the Ravens due to a banged up shoulder, to be reminded that
RUNNING BACK GETS INJURED
We have talked about this before. In February 2020 we wrote the Running Back Manifesto. I have requoted it on Twitter, and it literally stops the debate in its tracks. The truth is hard to swallow. Yet the facts are incontrovertible.
Let’s supplement one of the many arguments since the writing, that RB scraps helps you win Super Bowls. (1) Tampa Bay won the next Super Bowl with a former Round 1 pick who was essentially a wasted pick at Jacksonville, overdrafted at 1.04 overall and discarded for literally zero by the Jaguars on the eve of his 4th season in the NFL despite two good seasons in Year 1 and Year 3. Year 2 he got hurt (sound familiar?). The Jags declined his 5th year option (another tell). And no one would trade anything for Fournette, so he was released to waivers, with a $6M cap hit on a stupid rookie-1.04-overall-RB contract (sound familiar2?). Tampa Bay picked him for next to NOTHING, paid him $2M, and won the Super Bowl with him. Textbook.
(2) Los Angeles won last year’s Super Bowl. In the final 3 playoff games, the Rams ran 82 times for 186 yards en route to a title. Yucch. Stafford and Super Bowl MVP WR Cooper Kupp (Round 3 gem) carried the offense. The patchwork RB corp of Sony Michel (another discarded late R1 pick), Cam Akers (back from injury) and Darrell Henderson got them through. Akers was a RB we liked out of the Draft (Wonder had him ranked 33rd on his board, taken 52nd overall) but his return from an Achilles injury (RB, injury, are you seeing a pattern yet?) had him at less than optimal output.
It is time to finish the argument with the whole reason for the post in the first place, Isiah Pacheco. We wake up this morning to this tweet:
A backfield change: The #Chiefs gave rookie RB Isiah Pacheco first-team reps this week and he’s expected to start.
My story: https://t.co/Bggg5zdTD3
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 23, 2022
Are you kidding me? The blueprint for the modern 21st Century Offense, the Kansas City Chiefs, is starting a skill player taken in Round 7, 251st overall?! Welcome to the world of the NFL Running Back in 2022. When given 31 snaps thus far, he is averaging 4.8 yards per rush. More importantly, he can block… well enough for a rookie to start. Pacheco’s cap hit is $0.7M. I am surprised it is that large, but that only tells me the cost of re-signing Barkley is going to be ginormous, ~20X near $15M per yr, if some NFL team is stupid enough to pay that. The problem for these second RB contracts is they are a cap suck. Elliot is 6 yrs $90M. McCaffrey is 4 yrs $64M (and Carolina got out of that quickly enough). The takeaway is simple- every dollar you blow at this position, you have less to pay the Left Tackles, the Edge Rushers and the Quarterbacks. You can get 80-90% of Barkley for 10-20-30% of the cost. Aren’t the Breidas ($1M cap hit) and Brightwells ($0.7M) in your own backyard proving that? Isn’t Andy Reid, the coach of one of the top 3 contenders this year, proving that?
Is Barkley part of the future? No. I believe Schoen will be smart enough to not blow cap on RB by resigning him. If you could get Barkley for a good price (single digit millions, like 6-7M, sorry, not sorry) after a really good 2022 campaign, I’d say yes. But I’m betting he’s going to attract enough free agent interest elsewhere (despite his injury history) to make that impossible. Schoen, unlike Gettleman, will not bite. Discipline.UltimateNYG, 9/10/22 Season Preview
So, be careful what you wish for, Giants fans. We love Saquon. Team player, great teammate, great ambassador for the game, leader, face of the franchise. If you want a title, it is going to be harder to do it with him than without him. Running back is plug and play. This is not your father’s NFL.