Saquon Barkley #26 of the New York Giants runs a...

Saquon Barkley #26 of the New York Giants runs a reception towards the end zone for his second touchdown of the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The future for Saquon Barkley is unknown. He played on a one-year deal this year and is unlikely to do so again.

Barkley, the Giants’ two-time nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award, is both a good citizen and a great player. Although he and coach Brian Daboll are close, there never has seemed to be the same warm and fuzzy feelings from general manager Joe Schoen when it came to Barkley.

Asked this past week if he was thinking about Sunday’s game being his last as a Giant, Barkley said no.

“Obviously, that’s a possibility,” he said. “A lot of that’s out of my control. So for me, I kind of just try to keep the main thing the main thing. Like I said, the biggest thing is this locker room, and this team is going to be completely different next year. So cherish the moments and go out there and try to go off on a high note.”

The Giants went out Sunday on the highest note possible, given their 6-11 record. They finally beat the Eagles, 27-10, helped by Barkley’s two touchdowns.

He gave two game balls to kids in the MetLife Stadium stands after his second-quarter touchdown runs of 2 and 3 yards. He didn’t know either of them, he said. He also contributed a 46-yard reception.

Barkley finished the season with 962 rushing yards, 280 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.

Afterward, he shared that he knows he can’t completely control his future. He also knows he has a lot of football left in him.

Of beating the Eagles, he said, “It definitely helps. It’s a bonus. You want to come out on top against a team that’s had our number in recent years. Hopefully it can catapult our team in the right direction. Help us get on the right side of our division rivals.”

Barkley clearly got a kick out of watching his teammates excel on Sunday. Of Xavier McKinney, a pending free agent who made two interceptions, he said: “Xavier, he made his money. He’s a heck of a player, a heck of a leader, and he deserves it.”

But it was about more than getting paid. Barkley and his teammates just endured a tough season that did not turn out as well as any of them had hoped.

“It’s more frustrating when you’re first eliminated [from playoff contention],” Barkley said. “But this is the last time we’re all going to be in this locker room. You have new players every year. So I went around and told every player I’m thankful for them. And it was an honor to play with all of them.”

His teammates feel similarly about him.

“If this happens to be his last game as a Giant, I’m glad it went the way it did,” wide receiver Darius Slayton said. “I think he went out being the player he’s always been since he’s been here: explosive, creating touchdowns, creating big plays, showing that he is who we thought he was. Hopefully it’s not his last game here, but if it is, it’s always nice to go out on a high note.”

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