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AP names Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, Geno Smith as comeback player finalists

With the Cardinals, Panthers, Broncos, Texans and Colts all in need of a head coach, Mike Florio and Chris Simms assess which team an offensive-minded coach would gravitate towards.

The three finalists for the Associated Press comeback player of the year award all saw action in the postseason this year, which helps illustrate how much their fortunes improved over where they were a year ago.

Giants running back Saquon Barkley had torn his ACL in 2020 and looked like a pedestrian back for a 4-13 team while Christian McCaffrey finished his second straight season on injured reserve. Quarterback Geno Smith got some playing time when Russell Wilson was injured, but was otherwise strapped to the bench in Seattle.

In 2022, however, Barkley ran 295 times for 1,312 yards and 10 touchdowns to help send the Giants to the playoffs for the first time since the 2016 season. McCaffrey got traded from the Panthers to the 49ers in the middle of the season and scored 10 touchdowns in 11 games to help his new team to a division title.

Smith took over as the starter for the Seahawks after Wilson was traded to the Broncos and led the league with a 69.8 completion percentage while throwing for 4,282 yards and 30 touchdowns.

PFT chose McCaffrey for the comeback player of the year award and the AP’s choice will be revealed on February 9.