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Daniel Jones the priority over Saquon Barkley? Giants’ GM Joe Schoen makes it seem that way

GM says he wants both back, but hedges more on whether Barkley will return in 2023

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

New York Giants General Manager Joe Schoen seemed to indicate on Monday that while he wants both players back re-signing quarterback Daniel Jones might take precedence over bringing back running back Saquon Barkley.

At his end of season media availability, Schoen, side-by-side with head coach Brian Daboll, did not say directly that the quarterback was the priority. In my view, though, it was apparent from the tone of his answers that if he has to choose bringing Jones back takes precedence.

“We’d like Daniel to be here,” Schoen said. “There’s a business side to it, but we feel like Daniel played well this season. He’s done everything that we asked him to do ... we would like to have Daniel Jones back.

“I don’t know the exact date or time when we were like Daniel’s our guy, but we’re pleased with how he played this season.”

Schoen wouldn’t talk numbers and indicated the Giants won’t begin offseason planning meetings until later this week.

There was, though, no hesitation is Schoen’s remarks. It seemed clear that whether it is with a long-term deal or use of the projected $32.445 million franchise tag that he expects to go forward with Jones as the quarterback.

There was, however, wiggle room in his remarks about Barkley.

When asked about Barkley’s future, the first thing Schoen did was talk about business.

“We’d like to have all the guys back, I really would, but there’s a business side to it and there’s rules that you need to operate under in terms of the salary cap,” Schoen said. “Saquon’s a good player, he’s a great teammate. I loved getting to know him this season. He’s a guy we would like to have back.

“Everybody’s going to step back, take the emotion out of it, evaluate the roster. We’ve got to operate under the salary cap, how are you going to divvy up how we’re going to create the roster, what are the priority positions and how we’re going to move forward.

“We would like to have Saquon back, if it works out.”

Barkley indicated on Sunday that he was “realistic” about his earning power and that he isn’t looking to reset the running back contract market.

Still, there were talks between the Giants and Barkley’s representatives during the bye week. Ralph Vacchiano of FOX Sports reports that the Giants offered Barkley around $12M per year, with Schoen indicating Monday that the two sides were not close in terms of perceived value.

Schoen’s remarks can be read to indicate that he feels the Giants have a lot of things to get done this offseason and that throwing their salary cap budget out of whack at the running back position might not be in the team’s best interest.

The franchise tag for running backs is projected to be $10.1M. The highest-paid running back in terms of average annual value is Christian McCaffrey of the San Francisco 49ers ($16.015M). Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints and Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys make $15M annually. Dalvin Cook of the Minnesota Vikings is next in line at $12.6M per year.