Saquon Barkley’s Giants story got a fitting ending if this was the end


If this was his last dance in blue — and if Giants management knows anything about reading a locker room, it won’t be — it was an elegant last waltz for Saquon Barkley.

If you choose to be a cynic and say that Sunday’s where-did-this-come-from 27-10 rout of the playoff-bound Eagles (to whom they’d lost in 13 of the previous 15 meetings) was merely three hours of garbage time in a season that lost its way weeks ago, that’s certainly your prerogative.

If your belief is that there was nothing for the Giants to play for Sunday at MetLife Stadium with the playoffs out of the conversation by Thanksgiving, tell that to Barkley.

Because it didn’t look that way when the Giants’ heart-and-soul was racing into the end zone on a jet sweep from 2 yards out, carrying Eagles safety Reed Blankenship like a backpack, for a second-quarter touchdown and a 10-0 Giants lead.

If you’re assumption was that the Giants, 5-11 to begin the day, had already checked out on this season, that assumption didn’t age well.

Because it didn’t look that way when Barkley took a pitch from quarterback Tyrod Taylor and scored his second touchdown of the game from 3 yards out, while freezing Eagles linebacker Zach Cunningham in his tracks with a nifty deke along the way, on the next Giants drive for a 17-0 lead.

Saquon Barkley might’ve played his final game with the Giants on Sunday. Charles Wenzelberg
Saquon Barkley compiled 46 rushing yards and 51 receiving yards against the Eagles on Sunday. Robert Sabo for the NY Post

If you figured Barkley, who’s been miffed about the way Giants management has treated him dating back to the offseason when it placed the franchise tag on him before eventually giving him a one-year, $11 million contract, had lost the passion to care, you figured wrong.

Because it didn’t look that way when he was torching Blankenship on a 46-yard catch-and-run play down the left sideline, setting up a Taylor scoring pass to Darius Slayton on the next play for a 24-0 Giants lead.

With the NFL now valuing running backs on the same level it does stadium parking lot attendants and ticket takers, there’s more than a good chance Sunday was Barkley’s final game in a Giants uniform.

While Barkley’s final numbers in the game — 46 rushing yards and two TDs and 51 receiving yards — weren’t dominant, he had a significant hand in their three first-half TDs that salted the game away by halftime.

“If this happens to be his last game as a Giant, I’m glad it went the way it did,’’ Slayton said. “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. I hope it’s not his last game here.’’

Guard Justin Pugh sounded bullish on Barkley being back in 2024.

“He embodies everything this franchise is all about,’’ Pugh told The Post. “He’s a Giant for life. To go out with two touchdowns and a win against Philly [against whom Barkley was 1-9 in his career] is a good way to do it. Obviously, he’s got so much left.

Saquon Barkley compiled 46 rushing yards and 51 receiving yards against the Eagles on Sunday. Robert Sabo for the NY Post

“Hopefully, they’ll get a contract figured out and he’ll be back and he’ll really be a Giant for life. There are not many guys that impact a team like he does.’’

When I followed up with a question about imagining Barkley in any other uniform than Giants blue, Pugh interrupted the question and said, “No. He’s a Giant for life. They’ll get a deal done. If I was to make a prediction, they’ll get a deal done, and he’ll be back here.’’

Since the day Barkley was chosen by then GM Dave Gettleman with the second pick in the 2018 draft and with every step he’s taken since, he’s done all the right things and represented the franchise with unmatched class. Because of that, it’s always felt unfathomable that he’d ever wear another uniform.

“He was touched by the hand of God,” Gettleman famously said when he drafted Barkley.

Through his six seasons here, though, Barkley has been touched more by bad fortune than by the hand of God, losing his 2020 season to a knee injury that also adversely affected his 2021 season. He, too, has dealt with ankle injuries, not enough winning (playoffs once) and far too much losing (34-64-1).

“If it is my last game playing here, if it is, it was a fun six years,’’ Barkley said after the game. “[I] made a lot of great memories, but it’s not like the last time I’m ever playing football. If I knew that it was my last game, I probably would feel a little different.’’

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday leading up to Sunday’s finale, Barkley acknowledged that it was “obviously a possibility’’ that this would be his last game as a Giant and that his plan for Sunday was to “cherish the moments and go out there and try to go off on a high note.’’

He did.

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