The Houston Texans have ample cap space to use this offseason and one obvious need for improvement is the team’s running game. They struggled in that department last season and are expected to explore potential avenues to improve in 2024 and take the burden off of quarterback C.J. Stroud. One potential way to do that is the free agent running back class.
Houston got all it could out of free agent acquisition Devin Singletary, and it appears upshot 2022 rookie Dameon Pierce is not a great fit in the run scheme. Barkley can get to the edge well in outside zone and make defenders miss in space while also taking pressure off C.J. Stroud. The Texans should have had a much higher pass rate in 2023 and too often deployed a run-run-pass sequence, but Barkley is also an asset as a pass catcher and pass blocker.
Barkley is set to turn 27 this week and was selected second overall out of Penn State in the 2018 NFL draft. He’s rushed for 5,211 yards and 35 touchdowns over his six seasons with the New York Giants while making the Pro Bowl in 2018 and 2022, respectively.
Last year, Barkley was unable to reach a contract agreement with the Giants and was eventually franchise tagged. Although they negotiated a new one-year deal before the season, that contract does not prohibit New York from tagging him once again if they want to keep him as a weapon for quarterback Daniel Jones.
If Barkley hits the market, he’ll be a highly coveted player and could be a dynamic piece for offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik. If not, Houston will ample options between their own players like Devin Singletary and other free agents such as Josh Jacobs, Tony Pollard, De’Andre Swift and Derrick Henry.