Joe Schoen giants salary cap
Vincent Carchietta | USA TODAY Sports

The thing about having good players is eventually you have to pay them.

It’s a good problem for Giants general manager Joe Schoen to have. But that does not mean it is an enjoyable one.

Saquon Barkley, currently in contract limbo after being franchise tagged, won’t be attending the start of his team’s offseason program next week. Now will defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence as he enters his fifth season after a breakout year. And those “holdouts” are just two of the players who could get new deals this offseason.

A rundown.

RB Saquon Barkley

The situation: The Giants tagged Barkley in March after signing quarterback Daniel Jones to a four-year, $160 million contract. Schoen would’ve used the tag on Jones had the two sides not come to an agreement on a long-term deal. But after signing Jones, Schoen tagged Barkley right at the March 7 franchise tag deadline. This one-year deal is set to pay the running back $10.1 million in 2023.

The Giants reportedly offered Barkley a contract that would’ve paid him around $12 million annually during last season’s bye week. Barkley didn’t sign the deal and the Giants recently rescinded the offer.

As the two sides try to hammer out a long-term deal (or at least as Barkley wishes for one), Newsday’s Kim Jones reported Wednesday Barkley will not be attending the start of the offseason program next Monday. Which obviously caused a stir amongst the Big Blue fanbase.

The take. As soon-to-be Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers once said: R-E-L-A-X.

Barkley hasn’t signed the tag because he and the Giants are still trying to come to terms on a new deal. Which makes him ineligible to report to the start of the offseason program. That’s all this is.

If the Giants don’t sign Barkley to a deal that pays him more than $10.1 million annually, but lowers his 2023 cap hit, then he will likely play on the tag in 2023. Simple as that.

As we sit here today, Barkley will be a Giant this coming season. But if there’s anything the front office should do, it’s hold out themselves. Don’t budge on committing three years of money to an injury-prone running back who experienced a second-half decline last season.

DL Dexter Lawrence

The situation. Lawrence isn’t reporting next Monday either, but the star defensive tackle is in a bit different of a contract situation than Barkley.

Lawrence isn’t on the tag, but instead entering the fifth year of his rookie contract. Schoen picked up Lawrence’s fifth-year option prior to last season.

So he’s still under contract with the Giants but eligible for an extension, and one that should be highly lucrative.

The take. The Giants and Lawrence will come to terms on a new, long-term deal prior to the start of training camp. He’s too valuable of a player on the interior and proved last year to have dual-threat abilities as both a pass-rusher and run-stopper. Lawrence led the team with 7.5 sacks and was third with 68 total tackles.

This will be an expensive deal though. The Titans’ Jeffery Simmons just signed a new deal that pays him $23.5 million per year, so that’s the current benchmark. Unless the Jets extend defensive tackle Quinnen Williams before Lawrence puts pen to paper, expect a new contract to entail around a $24 million average annual value.

The Giants need to hammer this out before Lawrence potentially becomes even more expensive.

S Xavier McKinney

The situation. McKinney is entering the final year of his rookie deal. He wasn’t a first-round draft pick so he doesn’t have a fifth-year option. His value to the team as a defensive leader is obvious, but the pending decision might not be.

The take. The star safety was primed for a 2023 offseason extension…before suffering a hand injury during a bye-week ATV accident in Cabo last season. The injury caused him to miss seven games down the stretch. The accident likely lowered any potential payday he could’ve received this offseason, and the Giants should hold for now.

This team needs to see if McKinney can return to his old self prior to the accident, so no contract should be signed before then. In a perfect world, McKinney shines during the early portions of next season and the Giants extend him during the bye week before he eventually enters free agency in 2024.

LT Andrew Thomas

The situation. The star left tackle is entering the fourth year of his rookie contract and has a fifth-year option that could be picked up later this offseason. Exercising the option would keep Thomas under contract for the next two seasons.

The take. Skip the option — don’t even think about it. The Giants need to extend Thomas now.

Finally, after the dark days of the Ereck Flowers and Nate Solder eras, the Giants employ a franchise left tackle. And one of the best in the NFL at that — Thomas earned second-team AP All-Pro honors this past season.

Franchise left tackles are hard to come by and only getting more expensive. So the Giants must address this contract situation before Thomas’ price tag possibly increases.

Texans left tackle Laremy Tunsil just signed a new extension that pays him a $25 million average value. Thomas will look to surpass that.

This payday will be even more expensive than Lawrence’s. If the Giants hammer out a deal this offseason, expect the contract to pay Thomas around $27 million annually. So, say, a four-year deal worth $108 million.

DL Leonard Williams and CB Adoree’ Jackson

The situation. We grouped Williams and Jackson together because they are entering the final years of their respective deals after signing deals in 2021. And they carry two of the Giants’ most expensive cap hits for the 2023 season. Williams’ cap hit is the highest at $32.26 million and Jackson’s is third at $19.08 million.

The take. Williams and Jackson are down on the totem pole here. But that doesn’t mean the Giants shouldn’t at least consider the possible extensions to better financially operate during the season.

While the Giants could structure the Williams contract to get out of it after this year, the Giants may need to keep Jackson around for the 2024 season. The team has a glaring void at cornerback now and it could have two by next offseason if Jackson becomes a free agent.

With the cornerback spot highly crucial in coordinator Wink Martindale’s defense, Schoen may need to prepare for a sheer lack of options in 2024.

Follow ESNY on Twitter @elitesportsny

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.