The Dallas Cowboys might be a surprise destination for a very familiar running back.
According to BetOnline’s betting odds for Saquon Barkley’s next destination, the Cowboys are one of the favored teams if the two-time Pro Bowl running back decides to depart the New York Giants. The Cowboys are given +750 odds, ranking sixth among all of the teams listed.
“Where will Saquon Barkley sign IF he leaves the #NYGiants? (Odds via @betonline_ag):
Ravens (+400) Bills (+425) Broncos (+500) Jets (+600) Patriots (+700) Cowboys (+750) Chiefs (+800) Panthers (+900) Saints (+900) Bears (10/1) Seahawks (10/1) Cardinals (14/1)”
Saquon Barkley Emerged as Elite Running Back in 2022
The 25-year-old running back is projected to be one of the top running backs entering the free agent market — if not the very top one — after a resurgent 2022 campaign. After two consecutive uneven seasons plagued by injuries, Barkley once again emerged as one of the top backs in the league, finishing the season with 1,312 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns to go along with 57 receptions for 338 receiving yards. His number of receptions actually ranked seventh in the league among all players at his position.
According to Pro Football Focus, Barkley posted an 81.1 rushing grade during the 2022 season, ranking 15th among all running backs with at least 200 snaps. The grade exceeded Cowboys starting running back Ezekiel Elliot’s rushing grade in 2022 (75.2).
There’s little doubt Barkley is in line to garner a big contract in the offseason. Although the market for running backs is lower in value compared to other key positions, the former No. 2 overall draft pick should emerge as one of the highest-paid running backs in the league.
According to Spotrac, Barkley’s market value is $12.3 million per season across four years for a total of $49.2 million. That would Barkley the sixth-highest paid running back in the league.
Cowboys Could Lose Tony Pollard or Ezekiel Elliott
The Cowboys face a potential major void at running back. Tony Pollard is coming off of a broken fibula injured suffered in Dallas’ playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers, which means he’ll face a recovery timetable of three months. Furthermore, he’ll be a free agent in the offseason.
“They don’t like to lose good players,” said Rapoport. “They like to keep their good players. They want to keep Tony Pollard as he heads into free agency. Do not rule out the use of the franchise tag. It is something the Cowboys would consider. It would be about $10 million. Put that together with Zeke, a lot of money at one position.”
Secondly, Dallas will have to restructure the contract of Elliott. The former Pro Bowl running back is due to be the second-highest paid back in the league in 2023 with a cap hit of $16.7 million.
Elliott has already opened up, stating his desire to return to Dallas. The Cowboys also received further good news when Michael Gehlken of Dallas Morning News reported that Elliott is willing to take a pay cut to return to Dallas.
“The running back is willing to accept a pay cut this offseason, recognizing that a reduced salary can better fit him into the franchise’s plans, a person familiar with Elliott’s thinking told The Dallas Morning News on Monday afternoon,” said Gehlken on Monday, January 23. “He is currently scheduled to earn a $10.9 million salary in 2023.”
If the Cowboys are unable to bring back Pollard or Elliott, Barkley could very well emerge as an option.
Considering Barkley’s background as a member of the Giants, that would be one heck of an offseason storyline.