Saquon Barkley's NFL career began with a bang, but the running back hasn't yet proven he's capable of sustaining an elite level of play beyond one season.
No matter for the Giants. New York picked up Barkley's fifth-year option on Wednesday, the team announced, ensuring the runner from Penn State will have two more years with Big Blue. The decision wasn't a guarantee, not with Barkley's most recent injury considered. After battling through an ankle injury to rush for 1,003 yards and six touchdowns in 2019, almost all of Barkley's 2020 season was lost to an ACL tear.
For an explosive runner like Barkley, the injury was worrisome. Giants general manager Dave Gettleman admitted as much in March, calling it an "unknown" that would require the input of New York's medical staff in order to make the best decision for the organization.
It appears the Giants have seen enough from Barkley's rehab to give the go-ahead on the option, which will increase Barkley's pay in 2022 but won't tie him to the team via a lengthier deal. Essentially, the option gives Barkley and the Giants a longer runway to work together before deciding on long-term plans.
It's part of the benefit of spending a first-round pick on a player. For Barkley, 2021 is now about proving his injury was nothing more than a hurdle on his NFL path.