Nick Sirianni sometimes runs into Giants fans in the Philadelphia area and engages in trash talk. If the Philadelphia Eagles coach really wants to get under their skin, he knows exactly what to say.

“You know,” he tells them, “I got your best player.”

That’s probably not so funny to Giants fans still reeling from the defection of running back Saquon Barkley, who moved 90 miles down the Jersey Turnpike in March to join Sirianni’s Eagles. He wasn’t just the Giants’ “best player”. He was their only real weapon on offense. He was the only game-breaker on that side of the ball. He was the only one opposing defenses feared.

So when he signed his three-year, $37.75 million contract with Philly, the Giants’ already decrepit offense was left almost completely barren. And that was before tight end Darren Waller retired on Monday, thinning out the Giants’ offensive weapons even more. The Giants have high hopes that quarterback Daniel Jones will recover from his torn ACL in time to start on Opening Day, and that he’s primed for the breakout season they hoped he’d have last year.

But even if he’s back and begins to play up to his potential, it might be hard for him to rise above a very questionable surrounding cast.

Of course, that’s not how the Giants see it. They are embracing the optimism of spring in what might be delusional ways. Devin Singletary, the running back brought in to replace Barkley, said the offense has the potential to be “explosive”. Jalin Hyatt, a receiver they took in the third round last year, said the wide receiver room is “stacked”.

And they all seem to have enormous hopes that their offense can be led — if not completely carried — by 20-year-old Malik Nabers, the receiver they drafted in the first round.

“I think he can be a tremendous weapon for us,” Jones said during minicamp on Tuesday. “I mean, he can do everything. There is not much that he can’t do really from a route-running standpoint. He is dynamic with the ball in his hands and strong, fast, explosive, catches the ball well. He does a lot well.”

Is it time for the Giants to give up on Daniel Jones?

“Who are you going to double, you know what I mean?” Hyatt said. “You got (Nabers) on one side, you got me on the other, you’ve got Wan’Dale (Robinson), you’ve got (Darius Slayton). That’s how we’re looking at it.”

That’s certainly an optimistic way of looking at it. A realist might seem something else. Nabers hasn’t caught an NFL pass yet. Hyatt, who has big speed to match his hype, had just 23 catches for 373 yards last season. Slayton is a solid veteran who had a career year last season, but that only amounted to 50 catches and 770 yards. And the 5-foot-8, 185-pound Robinson still has a lot to prove after his 60 catches for just 525 yards last year as he worked his way back from a torn ACL.

If they stay healthy, they have the potential to be Jones’ best receiving corps in his six NFL seasons. But that’s only because the bar is really, really low. The Giants haven’t boasted a 1,000-yard receiver since Odell Beckham in 2018, the year before Jones arrived.

But even if Nabers, Hyatt and Robinson live up to their hype, they don’t have much help. When the Giants acquired Waller from Las Vegas for a third-round pick in 2023, they thought they were getting a dynamic receiving tight end who could draw away a lot of the coverage. That didn’t work out last year when he played in only 12 games and had just 52 catches for 552 yards. And now he’s gone.

The Giants did draft tight end Theo Johnson out of Penn State in the fourth round as a potential replacement for Waller. But at the start, they’ll mostly be relying on Daniel Bellinger, who has just 55 catches for 523 yards over two NFL seasons.

“I’m ready to take a step,” Bellinger said. “I am ready to take a step and do whatever they need me to do and do it better.”

He’ll have to take a huge step if he wants to draw any of the attention away from the receivers. And they’ll need a lot of people to take a similar step to help out a passing game that ranked second-to-last in the NFL last season (although Jones’ injury and quarterback issues were primary reasons for that). But the passing game might truly be the least of the Giants’ problems. Their biggest issue might be trying to replace the 962 rushing yards Barkley had in 14 games last season — or the 1,312 he had the year before.

The 26-year-old Singletary will be the lead back in his place, but he’s been more of a part-time back in his career. The 216 carries and 898 yards he had last season in Houston were both career highs. He played for Giants coach Brian Daboll in Buffalo and thrived as a member of a shared backfield. But in New York, it’s really unclear who his backfield mate will be, until a summer competition sorts that out. And the options aren’t enticing. The competition features Eric Gray and rookie Tyrone Tracy — two fifth-round picks from the last two seasons — or maybe the speedy Dante “Lil’ Turbo” Miller, an undrafted free agent.

Singletary, though, is the one who has to at least try and make everyone forget about Barkley — something that won’t be easy to do while he’s wearing Barkley’s old No. 26.

“We aren’t really worried about the shadow of Saquon or none of that,” Singletary said. “You know, it’s just finding ways to win games.”

Tiki Barber to Saquon Barkley: ‘You’re dead to me’

The irony is that the only way they can truly do that is if they step out of the “shadow of Saquon,” as Singletary put it, and find a way to generate the kind of offense they expected to with Barkley and Waller last year. Getting Jones back will help. So will the additions of veteran offensive linemen like guards Jon Runyan and Jermaine Eluemenor. And maybe nothing will help like the addition of Nabers, if he’s everything the Giants think he can be.

But right now it’s only hope and hype. There is no weapon on the field the Giants can be confident is Barkley-like. When Sirianni watched the Giants’ former best player at Eagles minicamp last week, he said he had “visions” of last season, standing on the sidelines of a game, watching “Saquon making somebody miss and (then) doing it again).”

The Giants think they have players who can do that, but they don’t have players who have done that consistently in the NFL.

Maybe Nabers will be that guy. He’s already dazzled at spring practices and even created some viral buzz with a Beckham-like, one-handed catch in drills at minicamp on Tuesday. Maybe Robinson or Hyatt can be what the Giants thought they’d be when they were drafted. Maybe Singletary can even be a factor playing in an offense he knows and loves.

That’s just a lot of maybes for a team that lost its only sure thing to Philly. Until they prove that someone can actually replace him, the Giants will be living in the shadow of Saquon for a while.

Ralph Vacchiano is the NFC East reporter for FOX Sports, covering the Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. He spent the previous six years covering the Giants and Jets for SNY TV in New York, and before that, 16 years covering the Giants and the NFL for the New York Daily News. Follow him Twitter at @RalphVacchiano.

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