EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The likelihood is the New York Giants are not done making big moves this offseason.
One day after signing quarterback Daniel Jones to a four-year deal worth $160 million, general manager Joe Schoen said the team has made offers to running back Saquon Barkley and will continue to negotiate with his representatives. The Giants used the franchise tag Tuesday on Barkley.
Schoen also said the team has begun negotiations with defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence. He is slated to play on the fifth-year option from his rookie deal at $12.4 million.
But the attention now seems to turn to Barkley, who would have become a free agent and hit the open market if the Giants hadn’t struck a deal with Jones before Tuesday’s deadline. New York offered a deal to Barkley for more than $12 million annually during the bye week back in November. Sources have said they upped the offer slightly in recent weeks.
“Again, we’ve had deals out, whether it be the bye week or recently, and we’re going to continue to negotiate,” Schoen said Wednesday in a Zoom news conference to announce the Jones deal. “We love Saquon. He’s a good teammate. He’s a captain. He’s a hell of a player.
“Right now he’s under the franchise tag, and as we build the team and continue with our offseason plan, we’ll do what is best for our team. We’re still mapping that out.”
A source told ESPN that they believe a long-term deal is a strong possibility before the start of free agency next week. The two sides are not that far off.
It was believed at the start of the process that $14 million could be a spot Barkley considers acceptable.
As of now, the Pro Bowler is stuck on the $10.1 million franchise tag. The Giants’ last offer was believed to be around the $13 million range.
Barkley, 26, told ESPN after the season that he was hoping to avoid the franchise tag. It was not a desirable option.
“If you ask anyone, they would prefer a long-term deal and not get tagged,” Barkley told ESPN the day after the Giants’ season ended. “But, sadly, that is part of our business. That is something they can do.”
It’s a tool the Giants now have at their disposal. It can only help the team’s leverage with the star running back who finished fourth in the NFL with 1,312 rushing yards this past season. It’s all part of the chain reaction that existed for the Giants with the Jones and Barkley situations so intertwined. Jones’ deal, based on the immensity of the numbers and his position, was the priority. Barkley’s situation depended greatly on his quarterback’s.
“That’s negotiations. We had some deals out there. We tried to get a deal done with him and his representatives and we couldn’t,” Schoen said. “I think both parties knew at the end of the day that this was an option and I think, again, if he’s frustrated I can understand some of that. We can be frustrated as well that we couldn’t get a deal done.
“I love Saquon. He’s a good player. He’s going to be a part of this team going forward and we’ll see where it goes from here.”
A long-term deal with Barkley would further provide the Giants with additional money to supplement the rest of the roster. If the sides agree on a new contract, Schoen said it would lower Barkley’s 2023 cap hit.
That was imperative for the Giants to do with Jones. Schoen called using the franchise tag for $32.4 million on his quarterback the “worst-case scenario.” That isn’t necessarily the case for running back.
But Jones and Barkley are aware of the implications their deals have on the rest of the roster. They relished the opportunity to play on a winning team this past season for the first time in their career.
Even when trying to take care of their own business, it’s something that at least sits in the back of their minds.
“In a situation like this, you’re trying to do what is best for you and your family while also balancing being part of a team and understanding the goals and the vision we have as a team and as an organization,” Jones said. “That was certainly important to me throughout the deal. I think we found a way to do both those things and to do the right way for both sides. That was certainly important for me.
“Saquon, I’ve said he means a ton to me as a teammate, as a friend and he means a ton to us as a player. So I certainly won’t talk about his business but that certainly was a piece of it too.”