Eagles top 25

Will Barkley be what the Eagles hoped? His spot on top 25 countdown

Saquon Barkley takes his spot on the list of most important Eagles of 2024.

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Over the next few weeks leading up to training camp, we’ll be counting down the top 25 most important Eagles for the 2024 season.

25. Brandon Graham
24. Nakobe Dean
23. Milton Williams
22. Jake Elliott
21. Nolan Smith
20. Cooper DeJean
19. Reed Blankenship
18. Tyler Steen
17. Devin White
16. Quinyon Mitchell
15. Jordan Davis
14. Landon Dickerson
13. C.J. Gardner-Johnson
12. Dallas Goedert
11. Josh Sweat
10. Bryce Huff
9. Cam Jurgens
8. Saquon Barkley

The biggest splash and the biggest surprise of the Eagles’ offseason?

No question. It was the addition of Saquon Barkley.

Eagles general manager Howie Roseman did something many thought he would never do again: Sign a running back to a big-money deal. But he brought in Barkley on a three-year, $37.75 million contract in March.

“I think, for us, it’s hard to find special players at any position,” Roseman said at the NFL owners meetings. “We think Saquon’s a special player and we think he’s a special person. And when you’re trying to find those guys, they’re hard to find, especially on the open market.

“Then you put into the dynamic about … has the pendulum swung so far at this position? The guy touches the ball 300 times a year, hopefully. There’s not a lot of other skill position players that are touching the ball that many times and have that effect.”

Even with a new offensive coordinator in Kellen Moore, the Eagles know their passing attack is still going to run through A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert. Adding a player like Barkley presented the best opportunity for them to improve the offense without taking away touches from those other top-notch players.

And when Barkley is at his best, there aren’t many better running backs in the NFL.

Still, it is fair to question if Barkley at age 27 and with a ton of touches in his career can regain that top-tier form. But the No. 2 overall pick from the 2018 draft is just one season removed from a Pro Bowl season with over 1,600 scrimmage yards.

In 2023, Barkley played through some injuries and averaged just 3.9 yards per carry on his way to a 962 yard rushing season. But he was playing for a middling Giants offense and he still caught 41 passes for 280 yards.

In his career, Barkley has been more than just a between-the-tackles runner. He has 288 career catches and has had at least 50 catches in every season except 2020, when he played just two games. Not only can Barkley catch the ball out of the backfield but he can also line up in the slot and out wide. And he’s a much better blocker than any back the Eagles have had in recent history too.

How much are the Eagles going to work to get Barkley the football this season?

Head coach Nick Sirianni gave a pretty good hint in March.

“A couple years ago, we added A.J. (Brown), just did a lot of work of, ‘Hey, what does A.J. do well?’” Sirianni said at the NFL’s annual meetings. “Obviously, you do that going in and then you look at it even more after you get him. ‘What does A.J. do well, how can we use him?’ It’s been a similar process with Saquon.”

Brown has had over 1,400 receiving yards in back-to-back seasons as the focal point of the offense. So you can bet the Eagles will be working to get Barkley touches.

This upcoming season will be Barkley’s seventh in the NFL and there’s some inherent risk in signing a running back to a big-money deal. That’s part of the reason why Roseman hadn’t done it in recent history.

But with Barkley, it’s hard not to see what this offense could be if he’s at his best. And for Barkley, he’s just excited to have capable players around him.

“The biggest thing that struck me is our first 7-on-7 huddle (in OTAs),” Barkley said. “You see A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert and Jalen Hurts. It's not a bad group to be out there with. And that's not even including the offensive linemen.”

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