Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles make major splash, land former Giants RB Saquon Barkley

Barkley is joining New York's NFC East rival

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Less than an hour after the Philadelphia Eagles agreed to terms with highly regarded edge rusher Bryce Huff from the New York Jets, they added a far bigger name from East Rutherford.

Saquon Barkley is an Eagle.

The blockbuster news was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who posted that the deal is worth $37.75 million over three years with $26 million guaranteed and incentives that could raise the total package to $46.75 million.

Barkley becomes the highest-paid running back in Eagles history with his $12.6 million average supplanting McCoy’s $9 million average on a five-year, $45 million deal back in 2012.

This is incredibly out of character for Eagles general manager Howie Roseman, who hasn’t signed any running back to a long-term contract since that Shady contract 12 years ago.

The only big-money free-agent running back the Eagles have signed since Ricky Watters in 1995 was DeMarco Murray, who got a five-year, $40 million deal in 2015, when Chip Kelly temporarily replaced Roseman as Eagles G.M.

This is incredibly out of character for Eagles general manager Howie Roseman, who hasn’t signed any running back to a long-term contract since he re-signed LeSean McCoy in 2012.

But Barkley is a generational talent who just turned 27 last month and has languished with the New York Giants, who only made the playoffs once in Barkley’s six seasons and averaged just six wins per year. 

In the Giants’ only playoff run with Barkley in uniform, they lost a conference semifinal playoff game to the Eagles at the Linc two years ago.

Barkley has been hampered by injuries playing on that awful MetLife Stadium turf and by the Giants’ generally poor offensive line. But he still had a monster season just two years ago, with 1,312 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns, a 4.4 average and 57 receptions.

Despite injuries that cost him 21 games since 2020, Barkley has 5,211 rushing yards and a 4.3 average and 288 catches with 47 total touchdowns since his Pro Bowl rookie season in 2018. 

It’s a ton of money for a running back, a position with limited shelf life.

The $12.6 million average is 4th-highest among running backs, behind only Christian McCafferty of the 49ers ($16.0 million), Alvin Kamara of the Saints ($15 million) and Jonathan Taylor of the Colts ($14 million). 

But a healthy Barkley is the kind of explosive big-play back who can give the Eagles and new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore one more weapon in an offense with A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Jalen Hurts and Dallas Goedert.

Barkley attended Whitehall High School near Allentown and lived as a youth in Bethlehem, where the Eagles held training camp when he was in his early teens. He starred at Penn State playing in the same backfield as former Eagle Miles Sanders.

The only other running back the Eagles have under contract is Kenny Gainwell, who has one more year with a $1.055 million base salary and a modest $1.139 million cap figure left on the final deal of his rookie 5th-round contract.

D’Andre Swift, who made the Pro Bowl for the Eagles last year after replacing Sanders, signed earlier Monday with the Bears.

Barkley, the second pick in the 2018 draft behind Baker Mayfield, had a historic rookie year, with 1,307 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns, a 5.0 average and 91 receptions for another 721 yards and four more touchdowns.

His 2,208 yards as a rookie are 3rd-most in NFL history, behind only Eric Dickerson and Edgerrin James.

But his career has been up and down since. He was still productive in 2019 with 1,003 yards and 52 catches, but his scrimmage yards dropped by nearly 600. He suffered a torn ACL in Week 2 against the Bears in Chicago and missed the rest of the season. He managed only 593 rushing yards with a career-low 3.7 average in 2021 but bounced back last year with another 1,300-yard season and another Pro Bowl.

Last year, he averaged 3.9 yards per carry – which ranked 33rd of 49 running backs with at least 100 carries – and fell 38 yards shy of his fourth 1,000-yard season.

But Roseman is clearly not concerned about Barkley’s production last year, which came behind an offensive line that was far inferior to what he’ll be playing behind with the Eagles – even without Jason Kelce.

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