Saquon Barkley‘s season-ending injury devastated New York Giants fans to their collective core.
Barkley tore his right ACL in Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears, which immediately ended his 2020-21 campaign. Meanwhile, the Giants were left scrambling for a replacement running back before next week’s matchup against the San Francisco 49ers, and they just found one.
Saquon Barkley tore his right ACL against the Bears on Sunday
Giants fans didn’t have much to look forward to heading into the 2020-21 season. Sure, Daniel Jones is a rising star who was poised to take the next step this season, but the rest of the roster was littered with disappointment and uncertainty.
The only bona fide star in New York was their electrifying tailback, Saquon Barkley. Barkley burst on to the NFL scene as a rookie in impressive fashion, totaling 2,028 scrimmage yards in 2018 to lead the league. He also scored 15 total touchdowns and made the Pro Bowl as a 21-year-old the same season.
Barkley quickly became the face of the franchise, as his breathtaking athleticism and big-play prowess captivated the fan base. He put up another solid season in 2019 behind a dreadful offensive line, and he had high hopes to make an even bigger jump in 2020.
However, two games into the season, Barkley was tackled awkwardly near the sidelines and tore his right ACL on the play. His season is now over. The giants were forced to peruse the free-agent market for a replacement running back, and they found one rather quickly.
The Giants are planning to sign ex-Falcons RB Devonta Freeman to replace Barkley
Just two days after losing Barkley for the year, the Giants have found his replacement in Devonta Freeman. Once Freeman passes the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols, New York is expected to sign the veteran RB to a short-term contract, according to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network.
Freeman last played for the Atlanta Falcons in 2019, where he tallied 1,066 scrimmage yards and six total touchdowns. He spent the first six seasons of his NFL career in Atlanta before the Falcons released him in March.
Freeman has seen his production decline steadily since his last Pro Bowl season in 2016. His 3.6 yards per attempt in 2019 was the worst mark of his career. Freeman is 28 years old and on the backstretch of his football career, but the Giants were desperate for running back help after Barkley’s crushing injury.
What does the Giants’ RB depth chart look like now?
After Barkley was placed on season-ending injured reserve, the Giants only had two healthy running backs on the depth chart — Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman.
Lewis is more of a pass-catching, change-of-pace back. He rushed 11 times for just 21 yards against the Bears after Barkley left the game, so New York isn’t confident in his ability to take over as the full-time starter. Gallman fits the mold of a workhorse back more than Lewis, but he’s never rushed for 500 yards in a single season.
Freeman joins the fold with a chance to become the starting back as soon as this Sunday against the 49ers. He’s by far the most experienced rushing back of the group, and he should handle the early-down work if he impresses the coaching staff in practice.
Obviously, none of the Giants’ current options can make up for what Barkley brings to the offense, but they’ll have to hold down the fort until the generational talent returns next season.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference