Moeller: Barkley Hype Can Take Pressure Off Manning

The hype surrounding Saquon Barkley just reached another level.

According to multiple reports, the rookie running back signed a four-year guaranteed contract worth $31 million Sunday. The deal included a near $21 million signing bonus paid to him immediately.

On the eve of rookies reporting to camp, the script could have had better timing.

For the next few weeks, Barkley likely will garner most of the spotlight in training camp, that is, until the Odell Beckham Jr. saga begins.

His presence arguably has overshadowed Beckham’s dilemma and one can argue the electricity behind his rookie debut may have outdone the wide receiver.

Barkleymania has spread throughout the tri-state area and easily has extended to his hometown area in Pennsylvania to adults and kids of all ages who are donning his jersey.

He has captured Giants nation without an official carry or catch.

With a good camp and a solid preseason game debut, Barkley will be the face of the Giants.

If he is, it can be a good thing.

The Giants will be in full session Wednesday looking to blaze a new path with the recent past behind them, but still some questions abound?

For one, did the Giants make the right move in the draft selecting Barkley instead of a replacement for Manning? They did take sleeper Kyle Lauletta from Richmond in the fifth round.

At age 37, Manning is coming off one of his lackluster years. If not for Barkley or Beckham anticipated contract squabble, an aging Manning would be the centerpiece of the preseason.

Yet, Manning can take a backseat and go about his business.

The Giants have restocked the offense for him, adding linemen Will Hernandez, Patrick Omameh, and Nate Solder to bolster their sagging offensive line. Will they blend together in time?

If Beckham is in the fold, he can be the catalyst for a deep receiving core highlighted with second-year tight end Evan Engram ready to take the next step, allowing Manning to have a passing frenzy.

Barkley, veteran Jonathan Stewart, and rising rookie Wayne Gallman have the potential to keep their weekly rushing total near the 100-yard mark.

The defense? Will newcomers Alec Ogletree and William Gay among others be able to re-ignite the unit to its stature from two years ago?

Barkley’s presence can overshadow any preseason issues, especially for Manning.

However, if Barkley is as dynamic as everyone expects, the questions can be resolved and the hype can turn into a memorable reality.

About the Author

Jeff Moeller

Jeff Moeller has been covering the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and college football and basketball as well as high school sports on a national and local scene for the past 39 years. He has been a Jets and Giants beat reporter for the past 13 years.

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