By: Phillip “P-Mac” McGruder
It’s that time of year again, the NFL off season is here. Every team is going back to the drawing board preparing for the NFL combine while other staff members in the front office talk to the representatives of players that could potentially be on their teams in 2022. There are rumors around the web including the Chiefs might release Frank Clark in favor of adding Za’Darius Smith (if released or trade) to our 2022 DL room. I can see that happening because of his connection to New Chiefs DL coach, Joe Cullen. Smith was a beast for the Ravens when Cullen developed his skills which helped contribute to the Ravens being a top 5 Defense during Cullen’s time in Baltimore. However, I know our Chiefs Kingdom family is still feeling the effects of that disaster in the 2nd half of the AFC Championship back in late January.
Of course, like I’ve said before, I wanted to see the Kingdom represent the AFC in LA and take on the Rams. Again, we just didn’t finish the job. One of the main reasons we lost was not because of a particular offensive coaches’ temperament or our QB didn’t make the right decision, or drops by our receivers on key crucial third downs. It was because we didn’t take advantage of a little small thing that the Bengals gave away, free space to run up the gap.
That would’ve killed the clock at least keeping Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase and the gang on the sidelines. Like Denzel Washington said in one of my all time favorite films ever, Training Day, “It’s chess, it ain’t checkers.’ Even though, Andy Reid is always and forever a pass first coach (His first QB he coached in the NFL was Brett Favre), it would not stop him from using the run if he needed or wanted to. Andy Reid knows that a tough, reliable running game allows an offense to command a game’s pace. In the majority of contests, it can also control the game’s result. He knows this and he would had no problem in going into that direction if he needed to. He had Jamaal Charles and Kareem Hunt pounding the rock in the Red and Gold. Remember, those two were explosive even when Matt Nagy (who is now back in the Kingdom back where he belongs) was the QB coach then later became the offensive coordinator from 2013 to 2017.
The other problem is, the Chiefs don’t have a legit proven three-down running back capable of taking the heavy load like a Jamaal Charles or Kareem Hunt. Like I’ve said before in my Melvin Gordon article, This is not to throw shade at Darrel Williams, Jerick McKinnon, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Derrick Gore. They’re great players who are all capable of starting for the Chiefs or any RB needy team in the NFL in the near future. I love what I saw from Jerick McKinnon did for us in passing downs situations with a 121.3 passer rating when targeted (3rd best in the NFL among RBs) and Darrel Williams broke out with a career high 1000 yards from scrimmage and a career high 8 TDs. As the off-season is underway, The Chiefs have only one RB under contract and that’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
That is why I am writing why I think the Chiefs should consider trading for Saquon Barkley and I will list the reasons why?!
Reason 1) Clyde’s Durability Problems: The Chiefs still have faith in that Clyde Edwards-Helaire becomes the player worth that 2020 first-round pick. He averaged an impressive 4.4 yards per carry through his first two seasons, but durability is a real issue for him and the Chiefs. Even when he’s on the field, the Chiefs haven’t utilize him enough especially in passing situations. Obviously, that’s a problem for a pass-heavy team like the Chiefs.
Barkley finished 2021 with 593 rushing yards, 41 receptions, 263 receiving yards and 4 total touchdowns. His numbers in the 2021 season were nothing to write home about and he also comes with durability issues as well. But Edwards-Helaire is running behind a very good offensive line with the Best quarterback in the NFL (Patrick Mahomes) and a high-powered passing attack featuring Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Mecole Hardman. Meanwhile, opposing defenders can essentially walk all over the Giants’ offensive line and they ain’t got no passing attack even with Golladay, Toney, Slayton and Shepard (who is rumored to be a cut candidate).
If Barkley returns to his 2018 to 2019 Pro Bowl/All-Pro form, two years removed from his torn ACL, the Chiefs’ offense returns to a level we saw in 2018 during Mahomes’ MVP season and Kareem Hunt dominance before his off the field problems became public which led to his dismissal from the team. He can become the featured three-down back in Andy Reid’s game plan. Remember, Barkley was one of the most productive running backs in college football history. He is a big back that boasts an exceptional athletic profile. Having Saquon in Red and Gold would almost remind us of Jamaal Charles and again Kareem Hunt.
Reason 2) It’s best for both the Giants and Barkley to go their separate ways:
Just like what happened with the Falcons and their Julio Jones/Cap problems, the Giants also need to cut their losses on bad investments and spend in smarter way in order to clean up their salary cap problems and build a winning culture. So it makes sense for the team to trade Barkley, who is owed $7.2 million on his fifth-year option in 2022.
Barkley has been weighed down by all the losing and the pressure to fix everything with a big play on every touch for the Giants. The Giants aren’t poised to field a top NFL offense this fall even with the additions of Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka. But Barkley wants to do three things in 2022: to stay healthy, to play for a contract and win ball games.
The Giants would be making a mistake if they don’t move on from Barkley. He watched the Giants trade Odell Beckham Jr. to Cleveland in March 2019 only months after giving OBJ a lucrative contract extension. So Barkley knows how the business in the NFL goes down. Maybe Giants GM Joe Schoen and New HC Brian Daboll don’t want to move on but again business is business.
Barkley is a unique, once in a generation talent of a RB. But the NFL is unpredictable and you never know what the player is feeling about his team, city, environment and those factor into decisions like this. So I believe the Giants are looking at the option of trading him.
How the Titans get Julio Jones? Their former Offensive coordinator now Falcons Head coach Arthur Smith gifted his buddy/mentor Mike Vrabel with Julio Jones along with a sixth-round selection in the 2023 NFL draft to the Tennessee Titans for their second-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft and their fourth-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Chiefs former QB coach Mike Kafka is now the Giants Offensive coordinator and they’re facing the same problem like Atlanta did a year ago. Arthur Smith would’ve probably had love to keep Julio but they were in a bad financial situation because of his deal and other bad ones but they needed to cut ties in order to pay their rookies including Kyle Pitts. The Giants are facing the same problem. Just today, I saw that GM Joe Scheon say about trading Saquon during day one of the 2022 NFL Combine: “I’m open to everything.” That’s Brett Veach’s language.
Reason 3) He (probably) won’t cost a First round pick:
That’s right, knowing Brett Veach, he isn’t afraid to make deals happen. Brett almost signed Trent Williams before he went back to the Niners to sign the largest deal for a LT. It didn’t stop him from getting what he wanted. He sent last season’s 31st pick to the Ravens for LT Orlando Brown Jr. Brett ain’t afraid to make it happen. Brett is the best GM in the NFL and there’s no debate. As a matter of fact, Brett Veach is the Andy Reid of GMs. Very well liked, respected, hard worker, loyal and he’s making his mark by making moves that we come back and say, “ If Brett didn’t trade for Frank Clark,” We wouldn’t have a Super Bowl champioship, We wouldn’t have sacked Watson 3 times or Tannehill for the closing moment that led us to say: “Were going to the Super Bowl.”
I can see Veach getting on the phone with Joe Schoen and asking for the price for Barkley. Once again, Barkley will earn $7.2 million this season, which is a significant figure in the Giants for a player that only give them 593 rushing yards, a 3.7 yards per carry average and four total touchdowns in 2021. Look at what the Rams did to get Sony Michel. The Rams traded multiple draft picks for Michel in 2021 and Barkley is a much more dynamic player. If Joe Schoen’s price for Barkley is a third or fourth-round pick? Veach would take it. I can see him giving the 2nd round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft away for Barkely.
In conclusion, I am not a GM nor front office person but I don’t think it’s a bad idea to consider this option for the Chiefs. This could be a way to take pressure of adding another WR to a pass heavy scheme. The Chiefs went through 2021 without a Sammy Watkins replacement and it worked. I am not saying we should do the same thing we’ve do on offense but it’s time to make adjustments. Considering trading for the former two time Pro Bowl RB Saquon Barkley to me is the equivalent of when the Royals in 2015 added Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto to complete our World Series Championship roster. It could be risky but its a risk I would be willing to take.