When the New York Giants traded away wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and defensive end Olivier Vernon, and then proceeded to let safety Landon Collins and a handful of other players walk, many wondered what impact it
would have on their locker-room.
No worries, says sophomore running back Saquon Barkley.
The Giants have moved on in the absence of Beckham & Co., and Barkley believes it’s actually made the team and the locker-room much stronger.
“Obviously Odell’s gone, but that trade happened so long ago. We’ve been in the locker room for a really long time without him,” Barkley told For The Win. “We’re still doing the same things that we need to do, and I think we’ve even grown more as a team, just going out more, whether it’s getting dinner or doing things like Top Golf and other team activities. I think the locker room is really great, and I think it’s showing on the field.”
That’s not a knock on Beckham, but the reality of life for the Giants in his absence. The superstar receiver was loved inside of the locker-room, which just meant the players had to put in a little extra effort to unify.
In Beckham’s absence, Barkley doesn’t feel he has to take on more of a leadership role, but notes that it was always his intent in the first place.
“Whether he was there or not, I think my focus was to be a leader of the team,” Barkley said. “As a rookie, I came in and watched how Eli and Ogletree worked. Obviously you can’t come into that position from day one. You’ve got to earn that respect and earn that role. I think I’ve been doing a good job of that so far, and obviously I still have some room to improve.”
With the help of Manning and Ogletree, Barkley should be able to bring the team together in much the same way Beckham did. But unlike Beckham before him, Barkley doesn’t care what the outside world thinks or has to say.
“To be honest, I don’t care,” Barkley said. “The only opinions I care about are my family and the people in the building: the training staff, the coaching staff, the kitchen staff.”
Whether it’s a fair knock on Beckham or not, this sort of team-first attitude displayed by Barkley is exactly what general manager Dave Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur wanted in 2019.