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Eagles GM Howie Roseman: Adding Saquon Barkley was 'way to zig when everyone's zagging'

Last offseason, a number of running backs struggled with an apparent devaluation of the position, leading to stalemates on contract extensions and trade requests from several high-profile ball-carriers.

This offseason, free agency saw a number of big-name RBs find new teams, albeit on contracts dwarfed by other premium positions on both sides of the ball.

The Eagles capitalized on that. They still made Saquon Barkley the top money-getter of the 2024 class of free-agent backs on a per-year average thanks to a three-year, $37.75 million contract, but nonetheless added a game-changing figure at an easily manageable price tag.

"From our perspective, you get to a situation where you kind of try to find, is something being undervalued?" Philadelphia's general manager Howie Roseman told Adam Schein last week on Mad Dog Sports Radio. "Is there a way to zig when everyone's zagging? Or I don't know if it's the opposite, and you're freakin' zagging when zigging. But I think that it's hard to find difference-making players and people, and it's hard to find them for a cost. Those guys, they go for a lot of money, and we felt like there was an opportunity to get one of those guys in Saquon and bring him to the team."

Barkley's $12.58 million-per-year average over the next three seasons places him fourth on the overall ranking at his position, just above Josh Jacobs, signed by the Packers for $48 million over four years, and three spots above Derrick Henry, now on the Ravens averaging $8 million a season through 2025.

His average-per-year cost places Barkley between the Falcons' Darnell Mooney ($13 million) and the Jets' Allen Lazard ($11 million) compared to wide receivers. He just beats out Cole Kmet's $12.5 million per-year average for the Bears, ninth among tight ends, while Preston Smith's $12.5 million as a Packer is 25th on the list of edge rushers.

Adding a player of Barkley's caliber against that backdrop became well worth it.

A two-time Pro Bowler, Barkley has 5,211 career rushing yards and 35 touchdowns, plus another 2,100 receiving yards and 12 scores through the air, after six years with the Giants.

He started his NFL tenure with a bang, making the first of his aforementioned Pro Bowls and winning AP Offensive Rookie of the Year before injuries momentarily stripped him of his effectiveness.

Barkley returned to his place among the RB elites with 10 touchdowns and a career-high 1,312 rushing yards in 2022, the final year of his rookie contract, then managed 962 rushing yards and 10 scrimmage TDs for an inefficient New York offense while playing on a one-year pact last season.

Now he makes the intradivisional jump from the league's 30th-ranked scoring offense to a unit that ranked seventh in 2023. The Eagles' offensive line, even in the wake of Jason Kelce's retirement, figures to be one of the best Barkley has had, and there's an abundance of weapons to divert defensive focus.

He's in perfect position to build on a pair of resurgent years heading into his age-27 season -- something Roseman also took into account when weighing whether to nab him from Philadelphia's Big Blue rivals.

"There's risk in every decision you make, but we don't think there's any risk on the talent," Roseman said. "We don't think there's any risk on the person. And we also feel like maybe -- not that it wasn't anywhere else -- but we have a good situation here with us in Philly to kind of maximize him. I don't think there's anyone when he came out of the draft that didn't think he wasn't a Hall of Fame-caliber talent and person. He's still young, and we're really excited to have him."

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