MOBILE, Ala. — Giants GM Joe Schoen revisited contract talks with Saquon Barkley’s agents early this week and said they will keep working to “move closer” on the running back’s value.
“We had some initial talks earlier this week with his representatives, so when I get back in the office next week, we’ll continue to have conversations with them,” Schoen said at the Senior Bowl. “With any negotiation, you just gotta move closer, and that’s what we’ll try to do next week.”
Schoen also said “we haven’t started conversations” with quarterback Daniel Jones’ representatives but reiterated “we want Daniel back.”
When asked if he wants to sign Jones long-term, Schoen said both the Giants and Jones’ camp needed to present their initial numbers before he can discuss that.
“Once we get into it, in terms of years, contract structure, finances — I’m not really sure where they’re gonna be or what they’re gonna be asking for,” Schoen said. “We’re still working on where we’d be willing to start. So until we get into actual negotiations, I really won’t have a good sense for years, money.”
Schoen’s first offseason as incumbent GM will be defined by his negotiations with Jones and Barkley and any domino effect created by their resolutions.
And the Giants clearly want to reward each player but not at the expense of continuing to fill out the rest of the roster.
If Schoen needs to stress the significance of helping the team’s cause and not hindering it during these talks, that could be indicative of a persistent divide.
“If it’s something we both agree on, the value, then we don’t have to approach that,” Schoen said. “But if we’re way off, then that comes into play. You give somebody all the money, that’s less you can divvy up throughout your team or outside the building if you’re bringing free agents in. So there’s a chance that comes into play, but until we have those negotiations, I’m not sure if we’ll need to do that or not.”
The Barkley and Jones negotiations each present their own unique variables and challenges, however.
Schoen said on Jan. 23 at his end of season press conference, for example, that the Giants and Barkley’s agents “weren’t really that close” on the value of his potential contract extension when they first negotiated during the midseason bye week.
Now it’s known that Barkley’s side declined a contract in the $12 million-$12.5 million per year range at that time, which inches Barkley’s ask in the direction of the 49ers’ Christian McCaffrey ($16 million per year) at the top of the running back market.
Schoen wouldn’t discuss numbers or specifics on Wednesday.
If there isn’t meaningful progress toward a compromise, though, the Giants’ GM has the option to slap the $10.1 million franchise tag on Barkley for 2023. And if that happened, it’s unclear where this would go: one more year of Barkley in New York, a tag and trade, or Barkley reconsidering and taking a lower long-term deal before the tag locked in July.
Jones, meanwhile, looms as the more expensive and pivotal negotiation.
One former NFL GM told the Daily News after Jones’ playoff win in Minnesota that he believed the Giants QB would command “between $35-38 million” on a multi-year extension, and that ballpark still makes sense above Kirk Cousins’ $35 million and below the $40 million a year club.
But as Schoen said, the Giants still haven’t decided on their starting number in that negotiation, and it’s not clear how high the team is willing to go. No one knows Jones’ agents’ starting number, either.
Jones’ leverage is the franchise tag at $32.4 million for quarterbacks in 2023.
Teams typically prefer longer-term QB contracts that allow them to spread out signing bonus money and lower the salary cap at the start of the deal. That saves money and cap space that they can use elsewhere.
Hypothetically, for example, a five-year, $165 million deal with a $50 million signing bonus would give Jones a $33 million annual value and allow the Giants to lower Jones’ 2023 cap hit to around $11 million while freeing funds for the rest of the roster.
Jones can’t compromise on his value, though. If he were to play the next two seasons on back to back franchise tags, the average of those salaries would be $35.6 million per year in 2023 and 2024.
So any offer that pays him less than that annually should be a nonstarter for the young QB.
And if Jones and the Giants can’t reach a long-term deal and the team is forced to tag Jones, that will eat up $32.4 million in salary cap space for 2023 that Schoen would be unable to spend elsewhere.
Complicating matters is that Schoen can only use the franchise tag once this offseason and has plenty of other business on deck, from free agent negotiations with safety Julian Love to the beginning of contract extension talks with left tackle Andrew Thomas.
Not to mention he has been here all week in Mobile meeting with prospects, scouting them on the field at the University of South Alabama, as other members of his front office continue free agent meetings back in New Jersey.
All a part of trying to rebuild this franchise one brick at a time, while guarding against using too much cement on one room and failing to build the whole house.
Source: Berkshire mont