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Saquon Barkley next team odds: Dolphins, Bills, Bears, Panthers, Texans favorites if free agent running back leaves Giants

The best free agent running back on the market is the Giants' Saquon Barkley.
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The New York Giants' season ended in blowout fashion Saturday night in a 38-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Yet overall it was a hugely successful year for Big Blue in the team's first year under new head coach Brian Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen. Now the team turns its attention to its two primary free agents: quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley. SportsLine offers odds on Barkley's next team if he leaves the Giants.

The Giants are on record as saying they want to re-sign both players, although Jones' value perhaps took a hit with his performance against the Eagles. The team can only slap the franchise tag on one of the two, but the good news is the Giants are set to have roughly $56 million in salary cap space once the new league year starts on March 15. Barkley's 2022 cap hit was $7.2 million and the franchise tag for running backs is projected to be at $10.1 million for next season. The former Penn State star most likely would want more than that at a minimum -- potentially something closer to the league-high $16 million Christian McCaffrey makes.

"I'm not really too concerned about resetting any [running back] markets or anything like that," he said Sunday. "I'm realistic."

The 25-year-old Barkley played out the fifth-year option in his rookie contract and set a career high with 1,312 rushing yards in the regular season while catching 57 passes. More important was that he stayed healthy, something he hadn't been able to do since winning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2018. His health concerns might scare the Giants off from a long-term deal, along with the fact Barkley will be 26 on Feb. 9. That's not exactly old for a franchise running back, but it's not young either. The Giants have until March 7 to decide on whether they want to use the franchise tag on players.

"I wanted to show them the guy they drafted is still here. I hope I did that," Barkley said after Saturday's loss and his future with the team. "Everyone knows I would love to be a Giant for life, but I really can't give 100% answers. Sometime this week, I'll have a conversation with my agent and see what's up."

If Barkley walks, no team in the NFL will have more cap space this offseason than the Chicago Bears, who are not expected to re-sign their own free agent running back in David Montgomery. He's a good player but not in Barkley's class. Chicago isn't close to playoff contention yet, though, if that matters to Barkley.

Neither are the Houston Texans, who are in the top 10 for most cap space entering 2023. Dameon Pierce had a very nice rookie season but isn't much of a pass-catcher out of the backfield.

The Miami Dolphins could make a ton of sense – can you imagine a healthy Tua Tagoaviloa surrounded by Barkley, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle? The Dolphins were a playoff team this season despite averaging just 99.2 yards on the ground. Both Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson are free agents.

There were some trade rumors this season about Barkley being sent to the Bills, but Buffalo made a minor trade for Nyheim Hines instead. Buffalo is losing Devin Singletary to free agency and might be desperate for a big move this offseason after being upset at home by Cincinnati on Sunday. James Cook had a solid rookie season but doesn't project a true No. 1 back. He and Singletary combined for just 37 yards on 11 carries vs. the Bengals.

If a team hires Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka as its head coach, that certainly could play a role in Barkley's future. He has interviewed with the Colts (they have Jonathan Taylor) and will meet with both the Texans and Panthers. Dont'a Foreman was a revelation for the Cats after they traded McCaffrey, but Foreman was also a journeyman before that and is a free agent.

Could Barkley stay in the NFC East with the Eagles? Their top running back, Miles Sanders, is a free-agent-to-be and also not as much of a factor in the passing game as Barkley is. Barkley was a high school star in Pennsylvania and then collegiately at Penn State. 

Detroit appears ready to take the next step in 2023 and top running back Jamaal Williams is a free agent after setting a franchise record with 17 touchdowns. He will be 28 when the 2023 season begins.

Via SportsLine oddsmakers: Which team will Saquon Barkley be playing for Week 1 in 2023 if not the Giants?

  • Dolphins +300
  • Bills +400
  • Bears +500
  • Panthers +600
  • Texans +600
  • Ravens +700
  • Lions +900
  • Cardinals +1000
  • Eagles +1200
  • Broncos +1300
  • Patriots +1500

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