Sports Illustrated and MMQB.com writer Ben Baskin published an in-depth look at former Penn State running back Saquon Barkley ahead of next week’s draft. Barkley, the class’ top prospect at his position has thus long been linked as a potential target for the Cleveland Browns, whether with the No. 1 overall pick or three spots later, at No. 4.
But according to Baskin, Barkley’s agent Kim Miale and the Roc Nation team that represents the running back is trying to steer Barkley away from the Browns, even if that means outright refusing to play in Cleveland were the team to draft him.
His Roc Nation handlers, however, don’t want him to be taken No. 1. They don’t want him in Cleveland. They want him to go second to the Giants and play in the media capital of the world. That’s where you can become the Face of the League. His manager even implored him to pull an Eli Manning and demand that the Browns not draft him. Barkley never considered the option. Sure, he likes the idea of being back in the city of his birth—even playing for the Jets, the team he grew up rooting for. And of course he’s heard countless people tell him that if he ends up in Cleveland, his career will be ruined.
The good news for the Browns, should they truly be targeting Barkley, as well as the fans who want him in Cleveland to lead the team’s run game is hidden in the passage, but it’s clear: “Barkley never considered the option,” of making a demand to the Browns to keep his name off of their draft card.
And now Roc Nation and Miale are disputing what Baskin said about their advice to Barkley. Miale, in a text message to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, wrote, “As Saquon’s I can say on behalf of our entire team that we would be thrilled for Saquon to go to whichever team drafts him. We know he will be a resounding success for any team fortunate enough to select him.” Cabot also addressed the rumor that Roc Nation had asked Barkley “to pull an Eli Manning;” Miale responded, “no.”
Either Miale and Roc Nation are not being truthful, or Baskin received faulty or incomplete information. Perhaps the “Manning option,” was one floated by Barkley’s team and ultimately rejected. And Barkley cannot be faulted for having a preference about what team he plays for this year. But none of this will matter much if the Browns don’t have Barkley in their draft plans after all.