By Max Harper

The Eagles signed running back Saquon Barkley in free agency back on March 13, less than four months ago.

And ever since then we have been wondering why the Giants let him go.

Now, thanks to “Hard Knocks,” we know why.

The Giants massively fucked up!

In the first personnel meeting after the 2023 season ended, one of the biggest topics was the plan for Barkley. Director of pro scouting Chris Rossetti said that Barkley is “still relatively young” and that he still have “explosive traits.”

“When he gets going, he’s still a load to bring down,” Rossetti adds.

His next comment turned out to be prescient: “Put him behind Philly offensive line, there might be value to another team that they’d be willing to kind of give up a pick or an asset to get him.”

Later in the episode, as a group of executives gather in Schoen’s office to talk about Barkley, it seems as if Rossetti tries to fight a losing battle to keep Barkley — or at a minimum to tag and trade him.

Here’s the back and forth between Rossetti and Schoen:

“Franchising and trading him I don’t think is realistic,” Schoen says.

“Are we positive that nobody is gonna pay him that kind of money?” Rossetti asks.

“Who would you say would go sign a running back to that dollar amount?”

“I mean, anyone that has money to spend.”

“There’s a lot of running backs in free agency.”

“Yeah, but are they any potential difference makers, really, after you watch the film?”

Others chime in after that, and Rossetti apparently decides he has said enough. Multiple shots of Rossetti suggest that he’s perhaps struggling with whether to push back even harder in that setting. Throw in the fact that it was all being recorded for potential use on HBO, and it might have made Rossetti even more reluctant to stand on the table for keeping Saquon.

That’s the key here. Beyond the fact that the Giants gain nothing by revealing their internal debate about Barkley to the world, the presence of cameras might have caused Rossetti to bite his tongue for fear of saying too much.

What if he’d been more passionate? What if he said what he apparently was thinking?

Barkley is too good to let him walk away for nothing.

Given the speed with which the Eagles (as Rossetti foresaw it) moved to sign Barkley, the Giants might have gotten something for him in trade. They also might have been better off to keep him, recognizing that he’s good enough to transcend the notion that competent running backs can be found anywhere and everywhere.

For all those reasons and for others I’m not smart enough to figure out, it doesn’t seem very smart for the Giants — or any team — to welcome cameras and microphones into meetings that need to be completely candid and fully confidential. And it will be very interesting to study the contents of the remaining episodes of the show.

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