Sure, this could all be the Art of the Big Blue Deal. But when you add up all the anecdotal evidence, it certainly feels like Saquon Barkley’s Giants future is in real doubt.
The latest inkling: Joe Schoen’s meeting with reporters Wednesday at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. The general manager reiterated his desire to retain Daniel Jones, revealed he has yet to begin contract talks with the quarterback and intimated negotiations with Barkley’s campo have not progressed much.
“We had some initial talks earlier this week with [Barkley’s] representatives,” Schoen said, via The Post. “When I get back in the office next week we’ll continue to have conversations with them. With any negotiation you just got to move closer and that’s what we’ll try to do next week.”
Translation: Barkley is still asking for not only more money than the Giants are willing to give him, but more money than they have to give him.
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This is the reality of the situation, even if a wide swath of Giants fans (and a few Barkley aficionados in the media) refuse to accept it: The Giants are all-in with Jones as their franchise quarterback. Mostly because of his performance down the stretch, partly because they have no other viable options. Jones will be paid like a franchise quarterback. The days of thinking the Giants will get him back making Ryan Tannehill money are over. Jones is going to be in the ballpark of a $40 million average annual value when all is said and done. And there is a good chance the Giants will slap the franchise tag on him as a tool to keep the process moving.
The trickle-down hits Barkley hard. This team has too many pressing needs to then invest significant resources in an about-to-be-26-year-old running back with a significant injury history that slowed down in the second half of this season. The reported $12 million AAV deal Barkley turned down during the season may have been the Giants’ best offer. And even that may no longer stand; Schoen didn’t know Jones was his guy when it was offered.
Sure, the Giants could use the franchise tag on Barkley if they can hammer things out quickly with Jones. But even then, would that be a smart move? That $10 million cap hit could go a long way toward reinforcing the roster in other ways. Schoen has to pay Dexter Lawrence and Andrew Thomas very soon, remember.
The Giants can do just fine with Matt Breida and a good mid-round draft pick in the backfield in 2023. And that is where this thing is trending.
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James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @jameskratch.