Jim Harbaugh was officially introduced as the head coach of the LA Chargers on Thursday and it is now time for Harbaugh and general manager Joe Hortiz to get to work. Harbaugh and Hortiz have quite the offseason ahead of them as they look to quickly turn the Chargers around back into a playoff contender.
One area that Harbaugh and his coaching staff will undoubtedly focus on is the team's rushing attack. The Chargers were one of the worst rushing teams in the NFL last season and that is not going to fly with Harbaugh as the head coach. Justin Herbert is still the priority but to protect him, the team needs to balance his elite play with a respectable running game.
Many Chargers fans have started watching Blake Corum tape in preparation for Harbaugh to reunite with his Michigan running back. But perhaps Harbaugh may make an even bigger swing than that. His former Chargers teammate Ryan Leaf certainly thinks so.
Ryan Leaf thinks the Chargers will sign Saquon Barkley because of Jim Harbaugh
It is important to remember that this is not a report from an NFL insider, this is an educated guess by a former teammate. That being said, Leaf's educated guess is a lot more educated than most because of his close relationship with Harbaugh.
In a perfect world where Harbaugh could do whatever he wanted this offseason then sure, Barkley could be a realistic target for the Chargers. But that is not the situation the team is in as the Chargers are $45 million over next year's salary cap, per Over The Cap.
The Chargers can free up a lot of money this offseason and not just get under the salary cap, but create enough wiggle room to have upwards of $25 million in spending money. But that still may not be enough for Saquon, as the team needs to budget in the money that will be used on the draft pool as well as an in-season budget.
The running back market has never been worse and there is a world in which Barkley only commands a salary of $8-10 million. And on paper, the Chargers could get to a point where they could spend that. But by doing so, the team would be sacrificing other areas of the roster for an injury-prone running back who is only getting older.
As special as Barkley is when he is right, the league has proven that you do not need to overpay for a running back to have success in the running game. Leaf is right that Barkley would make sense on the Chargers and might be someone who Harbaugh loves but the deal itself just isn't doable.