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‘Things I think’: Big week kicking off for Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Giants

Decisions have to be made soon with tag deadline, free agency looming

NFC Divisional Playoffs - New York Giants v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

New York Giants general manager Joe Schoen speaks to media in Indianapolis at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, kicking off what should be a big week for the Giants. Here are some ‘things I think’ as I stare out a hotel window and get ready to head to the Indiana Convention Center to hear Schoen speak.

DJ and Saquon

The Combine ends March 6. The deadline for the Giants to apply the franchise tag to either quarterback Daniel Jones or running back Saquon Barkley is March 7, next Tuesday. Thus, decisions have to be made soon.

The $45 million annual average value figure has been tossed around ad nauseum for Jones. Did his new Athletes First reps really open negotiations by asking for that? Can Jones actually get that, or something close to that?

The Giants and Jones are negotiating. So, of course, Jones’ reps are going to shoot high. As for $45 million, let’s start with this. Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals, the only quarterback drafted higher than Jones in 2019, makes $46.1 million annually on a five-year, $230 million deal.

Yes, Murray was Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2019 and has two Pro Bowl appearances. He is, though, coming off a season where he was 3-8 as a starter and suffered a torn ACL that will likely cost him a significant portion of the upcoming season.

Jones just had a far superior season to Murray. The salary cap is going up. It is not implausible at all to think Jones would open by asking for that much.

Now, is he going to get that? Heck, no. He and his Athletes First reps know that. It was reported Monday that Jones’ deal will end up being for “less than what has reported.”

Of course it will. That should not shock anyone. If the deal comes in at an average annual value of $40 million that should not shock anyone, either.

There are eight quarterbacks making $40 million or more annually. Is Jones one of the best eight quarterback in the league? Probably not. It is, though, about timing. Again, the cap is going up. Players like Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert are headed for rich new deals that will far exceed whatever Jones ultimately gets.

By the time the 2023 season opens, even at $40 million annually Jones will be paid what end up as a mid-level quarterback contract. That is the reality of the quarterback market.

I think the thing I am most fascinated by is the length of the contract. Will the Giants commit to five years in an effort to spread the bonus money and keep the cap hit down? Will they keep it to a three-year deal, probably driving up the annual cap hit by keeping the length of their commitment to Jones to a minimum.

Will the Giants end up using the franchise tag to keep Jones off the free agent market while they continue trying to reach a long-term deal?

What happens to Barkley? I continue to believe that the Giants want the tag available for Jones. If they get a deal done with the quarterback, could they use it on Barkley? If they have to tag Jones, could that end up pushing Barkley into the open market?

I think it’s a fascinating — and critical — few days ahead.

Wide receiver stuff

The Giants, and the fan base, will be focused on wide receivers this week.

NIck Falato did in-depth breakdowns this week on two of the possibilities with the 25th pick in the. Jalin Hyatt [video here] and Zay Flowers [video here]. There are pros and cons to either, just like there are with any other receiver the Giants could draft.

Who will grab Schoen’s attention this week?

The free agent market probably doesn’t hold the answer the Giants really need, although a depth signing is hardly out of the question.

What about the trade market?

Pro Football Focus recently tossed out the following hypothetical trade idea:

Brad Spielberger has the Giants sending second- and fifth-round picks to the Arizona Cardinals for DeAndre Hopkins.

I vote no. Yes, Hopkins is a five-time Pro Bowler. Yes, he would be a short-term upgrade. He will be 31 next season, though, and entering his 11th NFL season. Where the Giants are in their long-term build I believe it makes more sense to use that second-round pick on a player with a future rather than a past.

Upside down Combine

In years past offensive players have been first up in the on-field workouts. This year, defensive players are up on Thursday and Friday with offensive players taking the field at Lucas Oil Stadium over the weekend.


My guess is that’s about television. I think the NFL wants to get the quarterbacks, running backs and receivers on the field during the weekend when, potentially, they can get more eyeballs on the workouts.