Texans Saquon Barkley’s Preferred Destination?

The Texans are among the teams to watch on the running back front, and a they will have no shortage of options to choose from in free agency. Several accomplished producers at the position are on track to be available, and Houston could be well-positioned for a splashy addition.

After ranking 22nd in the league in rushing (97 yards per game), improvement in that area is an obvious need. The Texans are flush with cap space, so they could benefit from the crop of available rushers set to reach the open market. Houston has been linked to a RB pursuit in general, but one notable name has emerged which would certainly represent a buzz-worthy move.

Saquon Barkley has “targeted the Texans as his top potential destination,” KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson reports. Barkley has also been in communication with reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year C.J. Stroud, Wilson adds. The Giants made the unsurprising move of franchise-tagging Barkley last offseason, and doing so again is still on the table. Talks on a New York extension are ongoing as well, meaning the former No. 2 pick might not reach free agency.

In the event he did, however, Houston would represent an attractive destination. Stroud’s rookie campaign helped guide the team to the divisional round of the playoffs, and he is surrounded by a relatively young skill-position corps which would allow for a big-money investment on the market. With three 1,000-yard seasons to his name, Barkley would provide a dynamic element to the Texans’ ground game.

Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post confirms the expectation around the league is that general manager Nick Caserio will be a central player in the RB market this offseason. Caserio has a background with the Patriots, a team which has traditionally avoided making sizable investments in veteran backs. A shift in philosophy would thus come as a surprise, although an upgrade at the position would likely go a long way in ensuring the team can repeat its success on offense from 2023.

“What do I think is going to happen?” Caserio said (via Wilson) when speaking about a potential running back addition. “We’re all going to find out. Free agency, it’s what does the market tell you? And then any player, what are you willing to pay that player commensurate with their role?”

Barkley would be far from the only high-profile back the Texans could show interest in. Fellow 2023 franchise tag recipients Josh Jacobs and Tony Pollard on set to reach free agency; the same is also true of Derrick Henry and Austin Ekeler. Among the pending free agents at the position is Devin Singletary, who joined the Texans last offseason on a one-year, $2.75MM deal.

Wilson reports there is a mutual interest between team and player for a new Singletary pact to be worked out. Such a development (coupled with the continued presence of 2022 fourth-rounder Dameon Pierce) would likely lessen the chances of a Barkley pursuit. Still, it is notable the latter has his eyes on a Houston arrangement while his Giants future remains in flux.

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