By Mike Barnhart @_mikebarnhart
With certain players, you can see that they belong after just a few snaps. Toney is one of those guys, even with limited opportunities, he has shown that he has the skillset to be a top player for a long time.
Kadarius Toney’s ability to create separation from the defender right off the line of scrimmage is a trait that no other receiver on the Giants has shown. It’s one thing to have elite agility and quickness, it’s another thing to be able to translate those abilities to in-game production. That is where natural instincts and feel for the game come into play. How many receivers have we seen with rare speed/athleticism that never amount to much on the field of play? Kadarius Toney is a football player who’s also an elite athlete, not an elite athlete trying to learn how to play football.
Now that Toney has beaten his defender off the ball, he has to make the catch. Seems simple enough for an NFL receiver but not necessarily (see Evan Engram). Toney instinctively uses his hands to go get the ball and doesn’t allow it to get into his body. It never looks like he is fighting the ball when he catches it, always a smooth reception. At Florida, he had less than a handful of drops. He has also already shown the ability to track the ball down the field and make the contested catch.
Kadarius Toney is electric, his ability with the ball in his hands is something that anyone who watched 3 minutes of highlights after he got drafted knew that we could count on. Again, I go back to his feel for the game, if you take notice as soon as he catches the ball he instinctively takes off, looking for running lanes to make his cuts. Even for a rookie with very limited snaps, he does not seem to be thinking too much on the field.
The biggest question about Toney coming into the league was if he could be more than a shifty gadget player for the Giants. He has shown that he can get down the field and run a lot of the route tree effectively. With more snaps, he will continue to mature as a route runner and the sky will be the limit for him.
Whether it’s his fault or not, most fans would most likely say that Saquon Barkley has been a disappointment thus far in his career with Giants. To say the least, we have not seen the same production from him since his rookie year and for the most part, the singular homerun play hasn’t been there either.
All that being said, Saquon Barkley is still a young player in the league and we are all very much aware of his potential upside (see his rookie performance). There’s no question that he’s not all the way back physically or mentally from the knee injury. His recent hiatus was due to an ankle injury received when he stepped on a player’s foot. With the 5th year option on this contract being worth only $7.217 million (overthecap.com) he will still be paid less than half of what the top three running backs are being paid this year. I’ll take that hit with the potential of Barkley being close to his 2018 form.
Now, he’s most likely going to want an extension before playing out the last year of his deal. I think it makes sense for both Barkley and the Giants to agree on a short-term extension. Barkley gets himself a little security and the Giants don’t have to break the bank for a guy who could get back to being a top 3-5 player at his position in the league.
Barkley cannot get to free agency after this season if the Giants pick up his option, all he can do is hold out. I don’t see Barkley having the temperament to want to go through a long holdout nor does it make sense for him. No team would make Barkley the highest-paid back in the league with any sort of long-term guarantee after three injury-plagued seasons.
What I would do is give Barkley a two-year extension with one year guaranteed worth approximately $9MM per year. Barkley will have 2022 and 2023 guaranteed and then both sides will have flexibility going into the 2024 season. If Barkley returns to rookie form, he will be in line for a big contract at 27 years old. If he doesn’t agree, the Giants won’t be hurt too bad by his cap number and they will be able to cut bait after two more years of giving him a relatively modest salary.