Should the Bears go after standout RB Saquon Barkley?
Jeffrey Becker - USA Today Sports

Should the Bears go after standout RB Saquon Barkley?

by - Correspondent -

CHICAGO - With many unknowns going into this upcoming season, one that has drawn a lot of attention is where running back Saquon Barkley will be in 2024. The New York Giants tagged him this past season after some controversy during the offseason in general about the value of running backs.

According to EmpireStakes, Barkley has the highest Vegas odds of returning with the Giants. However, what is particularly of interest for Chicago Bears fans is that among teams that are not the Giants, the Bears have the highest odds of landing Barkley.

Chicago could certainly sign Barkley. They have the financial ability to do so with their salary cap space, particularly since they will not have a quarterback sucking up a large portion of the cap. Further, the Bears could use another running back given the inability of Khalil Herbert, Roschon Johnson or D’Onta Foreman to emerge as a top running back on a consistent basis; however, Foreman probably came the closest to achieving this. So, should the Bears pursue Barkley?

Barkley is going to be 27 when the NFL season starts, meaning he is most likely going into his peak season as an NFL running back. However, he will most likely demand a top-level running back salary which could be upward of $12 or $15 million. Another important consideration is that other running backs that could be available for less money, such as Derrick Henry.

Perhaps the biggest reason why the Bears should not pursue Saquon Barkley, however, is his injury history.

Besides his rookie season, Barkley has never played every game in a season. Since that 2018 season, he has missed games for one injury or another and was frequently on the Giants’ injury report this season, although he only missed three games. There are more reliable running backs available for Chicago because if they are going to pick up a veteran back, they are going to make sure to get one they can rely on to be available for them throughout the season.

The primary reason this is even a question to consider in Chicago is that the Giants have severely hurt themselves by giving quarterback Daniel Jones such a large contract, resulting in an over $47 million cap hit, almost 19 percent of their salary cap. If the Giants had the money to pay Barkley, most likely they would, given his performance with his second consecutive season of over 1,000 total yards, as well as his desire to remain a member of the New York Giants.

This could serve as an important lesson for the Bears about not overpaying your quarterback like many other NFL teams are doing. When you pay the quarterback $40 million or more based on one season of playing well, it can have dire consequences, such as losing key pieces of your team. The Bears have been pretty good about giving players reasonable contracts and being smart with the salary cap and, thus, need to continue in that and pass on Barkley.

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