Packers could make surprise move for Saquon Barkley in free agency

Green Bay Packers, Saquon Barkley
Green Bay Packers, Saquon Barkley / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

The Green Bay Packers have attempted to upgrade their running back room in recent months, and they now get another opportunity to land Saquon Barkley.

Barkley played on the franchise tag in 2023, but the New York Giants opted against tagging him again this offseason. It clears the path for the two-time Pro Bowler to hit free agency for the first time in his career when the new league year begins on March 13.

The Packers reportedly won't re-sign running back AJ Dillon, creating a need to upgrade the position this offseason.

Green Bay could turn to the 2024 NFL Draft to bolster the running back room, but recent history suggests Brian Gutekunst may target Barkley in free agency.

Why Packers could sign Saquon Barkley in free agency

The Packers usually don't spend big at the running back position, but they tried to do it early in the 2023 season. In August, ESPN reported that Green Bay held talks with the Indianapolis Colts about a trade for Jonathan Taylor, with the Packers having "legitimate interest."

Before the NFL's trade deadline in November, Jay Glazer of FOX Sports named the Packers one of the teams in the market for a running back. This was during a discussion about Barkley and Derrick Henry, which is notable.

Had the Packers made a deal for Barkley or Taylor, they would've had to hand them a significant multi-year deal and give up draft capital.

Now, the second part is gone.

The idea of a Barkley-Aaron Jones backfield is undoubtedly exciting and could help Matt LaFleur's offense reach new heights.

Even in a quieter year for Barkley, he still put up 1,242 all-purpose yards with 10 touchdowns in 14 games. He has 5,211 rushing yards and 35 touchdowns across 74 career games.

It will come down to a few factors. How does Gutekunst rate the upcoming running back draft class? How much will it cost to sign Barkley? Does Gutekunst believe signing him helps the Packers win a Super Bowl in the next few years?

Perhaps Gutekunst thinks the Packers can replicate the success of the San Francisco 49ers' trade for Christian McCaffrey by signing a star running back.

Green Bay's ground game struggled for consistency when Jones wasn't on the field this past season. Adding a superstar like Barkley would solve that problem, forming one of the best running back duos in the NFL.

Based on the Packers' recent interest in the running back market, Barkley is a name to watch at the start of free agency.

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