The New York Giants are 1-5. The future may still be bright, but the playoffs are a pipe dream for the 2023-24 season. With the Oct. 31 NFL trade deadline less than two weeks away, should the Giants be sellers? Should they listen to offers for Saquon Barkley? If they sell, who else should be made available?
We put these questions to the Big Blue View staff. Here are their answers.
It’s very difficult to say anything but yes. This Giants season is lost, and keeping around players who aren’t part of their future is foolish at this point. At the same time, tearing it all down after Year 2 of the Brian Daboll-Joe Schoen era is a tough ask. It’s a principal-agent problem, in a sense — what’s best for the team is not necessarily the best for the decision-makers’ career prospects. Therefore, even though I think the team should sell, I’m not convinced that they will.
As readers may know, I was not a fan of extending Saquon Barkley in the offseason. However, watching this offense, I think it’s pretty obvious that the Giants need him. I’d be hesitant to trade the one guy who can make the offense tick unless Schoen thinks he can fix the entire offensive line in one offseason. I’m more inclined to franchise tag him a second time, as foolish as that may sound.
I can understand why they’d trade Barkley, though, and he does seem to be the most obvious candidate. Leonard Williams is also a clear-cut option if someone is willing to take on his remaining salary. If they don’t plan on re-signing Adoree’ Jackson, they should definitely trade him, as well. Although he has graded out extremely poorly this season (37.0 Pro Football Focus coverage grade), he has a solid track record and can likely garner a decent return.
There are other, lesser players to consider trading, like Parris Campbell, Jihad Ward, and Bobby McCain. I’m not convinced the Giants can get anything for them, though. Campbell (50.8 PFF grade) and Ward (34.4) are both performing miserably this season, and McCain has been relegated to special teams duty. Still, they’re veterans with cheap contracts, so perhaps some team will take a chance on them for a late-round pick or pick swap. Ward is unlikely to be traded because of Azeez Ojulari’s injury, but I would still consider it because he is not much of an upgrade from the Giants’ backup edge defenders.
Spooky season arrived early for the 1-5 Giants, as the trade deadline at the end of October could act as a future salve for New York. No one expected the Giants to look this dreadful through the first six weeks of the season. It’s unfortunate, and injuries are a huge reason, but the die is cast, and New York must look forward to improving the overall health of their future roster.
The primary way the Giants can improve their future is to trade veteran assets who aren’t in the Giants' long-term plans, and I think this must be explored. However, who fits this criteria? Five names come to mind: Adoree’ Jackson, Leonard Williams, Parris Campbell, Xavier McKinney, and Saquon Barkley. All five are impending free agents; there are others who could also be considered.
Jackson has value and is a good overall coverage cornerback who could possibly garner an early day three pick. I don’t know who would want to assume the burden of Leonard Williams’ contract, but he’s more than likely available. Campbell was phased out of the offense, and may not be in high demand. Still, if a team suffers injuries at wide receiver and has a prior relationship with Campbell, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him traded.
Then there’s McKinney and Barkley. If, and only if, neither are in the Giants’ future plans, then a trade should certainly be explored to determine value. McKinney isn’t forcing turnovers, but his versatility and intelligence are invaluable on the football field.
New York used him at the traditional cornerback position to the wide side of the field over Stefon Diggs; he was tasked to fake coverage on Diggs and spin out to contain a mobile Josh Allen while undercutting backside crossing routes. McKinney does this, he can play the post, he’s frequently in the box, and he does well in man coverage against top tight ends.
It depends on the contract he’s pursuing. He could earn Ravens’ Marcus Williams money ($ 14 million a year), which is too much with the contracts Joe Schoen has on the books. However, if the market is dry and he’s looking at Julian Love money ($6 million a year), the Giants definitely should retain his talent. It really comes down to how the Giants view him moving forward. He’s only 24 years old, and I don’t want to see more talented young football players go to other teams and live out long careers when they could have been a Giant for life at the right price.
Then there’s Barkley. The Giants did not capitulate in contract negotiations through the off-season. Barkley was franchise-tagged, and he signed an incentivized deal that can earn him up to $1 million more. The Giants love Barkley, but Joe Schoen erred on the side of caution with his contract, given Barkley’s injury history and the realities of running backs as they age.
Unfortunately for Barkley, he suffered a high ankle sprain against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2. Barkley will be 27 years old at the start of next season. The Colts just resigned Jonathan Taylor to a three-year, $ 47-million contract. In Taylor’s age 26 and 27 seasons, he’ll count for over $15.5 million against the cap.
Barkley has every right to demand a similar contract, especially if he finishes this season strong. I’m not certain Schoen will give him that contract. After a year of deliberating with Barkley’s agents, Schoen may understand what the star running back wants. The franchise tag would likely not go over well. If Schoen doesn’t believe that Barkley - who is a special talent - is in the Giants' long-term plans, then he must explore his market.
Teams like the Ravens or Bills may make sense. The Panthers received a second, third, fourth, and fifth (2024) round picks for dealing Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers. I don’t believe Barkley will fetch that much on the trade market, but Schoen wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t investigate.
I don’t know if the Giants will be players in free agency, but that should be factored in as well; if the Giants aren’t players in free agency, then the contracts provided to McKinney and Barkley by their next teams will count into the compensatory formula, which could earn the Giants a late Round 3 pick depending on those respective player’s contracts.
I do believe that the Giants should try to move Saquon Barkley by the trade deadline. Joe Schoen's response of "What's the number?" to questions regarding whether or not running backs should be highly paid as free agents suggests to me that a big long-term deal is unlikely. Barkley's recent injury probably makes that even more unlikely. So, rather than hoping Barkley would get a good-enough contract in free agency to maybe get a compensatory pick in 2025, the Giants should get what they can now.
But does that mean the Giants should be "sellers"? Personally, I think not, although accumulating draft capital makes sense with the Giants' path to the playoffs extremely barrow.
Honestly, however, I'm not sure how many assets they have that they can sell off. Leonard Williams seems like he would be a likely candidate, but his contract would be difficult to move. Xavier McKinney might also be a trade candidate, but the Giants only have three other possible safeties on the roster. And considering that the Giants' defense has been their strength over the last couple weeks, I doubt they'd be willing too e any defenders.
The offense doesn't really have many other options beyond Barkley. They could try and find a trade partner for Sterling Shepard, but the cold-blooded moving of a respected veteran could disrupt the locker room. One intriguing option could be Evan Neal. Justin Pugh played well at left tackle, and the Giants could get a reasonable return for Neal. Neal hasn't played up to his draft position (which is why I'm even considering this), but teams could remember their pre-draft evaluations and could believe they can get that out of him where the Giants failed.
That is definitely unlikely, though, and I still don't think the Giants really should be "sellers".
Even though I’ve pushed my chips to the middle of the table, I realize that it’s unlikely that the 2023 Giants have a playoff run in them. There’s an alternative to a fire sale, Caleb Williams-or-bust approach - a surgically precise nip-and-tuck. It’s about accumulating draft assets, yes, but it’s also about next year’s salary cap compliance.
Three Giants almost certainly will not be back next year because their play does not match their likely opinion of their performance. All are not under contract for 2024, so they would only be short-term rentals for the team that acquires them. That means we are looking at trade partners who see themselves as contenders missing a piece they need to get over the top. The draft collateral they will bring will be minimal, but even if Joe Schoen has to pick up part of their remaining salaries, it will be useful.
The most valuable is probably Xavier McKinney, who sees himself as an upper echelon safety but whose play in Wink Martindale’s defense has been average at best. In a predominantly zone defense where he can roam the deep secondary, as he did for Patrick Graham in his one good season (2021), he might become a star, and he is still young.
Adoree’ Jackson seems like the next best candidate. His next contract won’t be as big as what Dave Gettleman gave him - he’s just not good enough either at shutting down receivers or intercepting quarterbacks. He is solid, though, so a contender looking to shore up the back end might find him attractive.
The same logic applies to Leonard Williams - good player, not enough of a game changer to justify what Gettleman gave him. He’s still solid in the middle, though, and could help a contender.
I would NOT trade Saquon Barkley. I am in the minority who feels that (a) running backs are more important than they have been reputed to be lately, (b) Barkley is one of the few game-changing players the Giants have, (c) he is also the leader of the team. Tagging him again next year is an option. I’d prefer a two-year deal below what the younger Jonathan Taylor got but above what Schoen was offering him this spring.
I think my view aligns with the way most of the writers above seem to feel. I think the Giants should be “selective sellers.”
GM Joe Schoen does not have to conduct a fire sale. He doesn’t even need to aggressively shop players. He needs to let teams around the league know he is willing to listen if there are players other teams are interested in, and be willing to make a move or two if the return is worthwhile.
Honestly, if there is a rookie contract player available the Giants feel could make a difference for them I would be OK with buying. I would, though, rather see the Giants collect draft assets than give them away.
Giants players who might draw interest, and a return making them worth moving, have been named above. Saquon Barkley, Adoree’ Jackson, Leonard Williams and perhaps Xavier McKinney.
I hope the Giants don’t feel like they have to trade Barkley. They don’t. They do have to be willing to listen, especially if they don’t intend to make him a long-term contract offer in the offseason. Barkley isn’t getting younger, he isn’t getting healthier and his play is going to begin to decline soon — if it hasn’t already. I know how important Barkley is to the Giants now, but he’s not in the lineup consistently enough. If the Giants can get compensation they think will help them continue to build for the future they need to be willing to move on.
Jackson could be attractive to a contending team looking for cornerback help. Williams is likely too expensive, with an acquiring team needing to fit roughly $9 million of his $18 million base salary under the cap. McKinney is an interesting case. Good player, but I’m not sure how the Giants feel about him. They have refused to offer him a contract extension and I wonder if they want to make a long-term commitment to him. If they don’t, getting something for him makes sense.
So, sell selectively. Don’t trade just to trade. Do it if you think it helps your future.