Saquon Barkley

How Saquon Barkley has already been impressing Jalen Hurts

The Eagles are still in their first week of the voluntary offseason program but Saquon Barkley is already impressing his new teammates.

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The Eagles reported for their voluntary offseason program on Monday and by Wednesday, Jalen Hurts was already very impressed by Saquon Barkley.

It didn’t take long.

“I think he’s a hell of a player. He’s on this side now so that’s cool,” Hurts said on Wednesday. “I think, for him, even in the short time of us having OTAs, you hear about the type of person he is, the type of leader he is in the room, the energy he brings to the room. That’s something that you can appreciate. That’s something I appreciate already. Just us competing in sprints or competing on the squat rack or doing things like that, where we’re challenging one another. Those are the things that set the thermostat for what the team is supposed to follow. 

“Everything we’re talking about doing is just competing and going through these moments together and experiencing these things together and really pushing one another. I think he’s been great with that. I’ve built a good relationship with him just on short notice and we’ll continue to build on that.”

Barkley was the Eagles’ biggest offensive addition this offseason and through just a few days together at the NovaCare Complex, Barkley has already added something to the spirit of the team.

Barkley, 27, joined the Eagles on a lucrative three-year deal as a free agent this offseason after the former No. 2 overall pick spent the first six years of his career with the division-rival New York Giants.

The Eagles’ biggest free agent contract actually went to edge rusher Bryce Huff, but there’s no question that their biggest splash this offseason was landing Barkley on a three-year, $37.75 million deal. While there’s obviously some risk involved with paying a running back, the Eagles think they found a market inefficiency and jumped to add a blue-chip player.

Risk aside, there’s a lot of internal excitement about adding Barkley to an already potent offense.

“I saw we signed Saquon Barkley,” new center Cam Jurgens joked. “Did you guys see that? I’m pretty fired up about that.”

Yes, we’ve heard.

“So far, he just seems like a really great guy,” Jurgens said. “It’s been great getting to know him, talk about what his interests are, where he grew up. Not too far from here. It’s just fun hearing from that. I grew up watching him in college. That’s one of the best running backs to go through college at Penn State there so it’s fun being teammates with somebody like that. He’s a good dude. I’m excited to get to know him a little bit better.”

As the Eagles’ franchise quarterback, Hurts has taken it upon himself to be the unofficial welcoming committee for the team. After a player is signed, there’s normally a text message from Hurts coming their way. With Barkley, that text came and then the two actually worked out together earlier this month.

In past years, Hurts has gotten together with teammates for workouts so it’s not a surprise to see him link up with his new star running back before the team reunited at the NovaCare Complex this week.

“I think that’s very important,” Hurts said. “I think that’s very important for all of those guys, taking the time and taking those moments to go out there and get the work in. I think the actionable things on the field are so important because that’s where you develop trust, that’s where you develop that chemistry. 

“Like I said, I know for myself and the short notice what type of mentality he has. We’ll continue to just develop what that looks like for us all together. We have a ton of opportunity in front of us but I think the most important thing is the mentality that the people have in the building. You want to get people that have a sense of culture about themselves, have a mentality about themselves and I think that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

As the longest tenured athlete in the city and one of the Eagles’ defensive captains, Brandon Graham is a big part of the leadership group of the team. And he’s already seen some of those leadership qualities in his short time being around Barkley.

Graham said he thinks Barkley, even as a newcomer, can be an important voice in the running back room and on that side of the football.

But leadership is just an added bonus. The Eagles signed Barkley because they believe he can be an elite running back over the next couple of seasons and can perhaps add a new dynamic to an offense that seemingly has all the weapons to be elite again.

While there’s some legitimate concern about injuries and the workload during his career, when Barkley is at his best, he’s one of the top running backs in the NFL. Just a couple years ago, Barkley rushed for over 1,300 yards with 10 touchdowns . The thought of him in this offense is pretty exciting for fans and players too.

Tight end Dallas Goedert said he found out about the Barkley signing on Twitter and was immediately pumped.

“That was a really exciting thing for me, being part of the blocking scheme at stuff like that,” Goedert said. “Having a running back of Saquon’s stature, style of running, his abilities, it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to open things, it’s going to make my job as a tight end a little bit easier. Hopefully, it opens the field for everybody. A playmaker like that is going to draw attention and I’m really excited to see what he does. 

“I already know he’s going to add a lot to the team, being in the weight room with him, being on the field with him, doing stuff with him. He’s a tremendous guy with great leadership ability and he wants greatness. He wants to be the best and I think he’s going to help carry people to become better and better.”

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