EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New York Giants general manager Joe Schoen on Wednesday contradicted a published report that the Giants had tried to trade star running back Saquon Barkley after franchise tagging him in the spring.
“We never had a conversation about trading Saquon Barkley. Never,” Schoen said while sitting alongside head coach Brian Daboll as the duo held their season-opening press conference.
Barkley, who avoided an expected training camp holdout by signing an amended franchise tag on Tuesday, was really all anyone wanted to ask Schoen and Daboll about.
Barkley’s amended deal includes $909,000 worth of incentives that could push the value of his deal to roughly $11 million.
Schoen described how the deal eventually got done. He said it was “OK” that the sides couldn’t reach a long-term because “You try to do what’s best for both parties and ... Sometimes deals get done and, and sometimes they don’t.”
When the deal did not get done, Schoen said he circled back to Barkley’s reps on Monday in an effort to reach a compromise that would bring Barkley to training camp.
“Fortunately we were able to come to an agreement with altering the franchise tag a little bit to get him to camp,” Schoen said. “We’re ecstatic, fired up that Saquon’s gonna be here for the start of camp.
“My focus was getting him here on day one and he’s here on day one.”
Barkley celebrated his return with a tremendous catch for a touchdown during a 7-on-7 red zone drill. [Full practice report]
Barkley seemed frustrated when he talked to media during the summer, but Schoen said that feeling was “never articulated to me.”
“I respect the hell outta Saquon and I’m never gonna tell somebody to do something that they don’t think is right,” Schoen said. “So again, I respect Saquon, I admire him. I’m glad he is here.
“It [Barkley signing and reporting] means a lot. He’s a very good player. He is a good teammate. He’s somebody that we tried hard and long to get a deal done with. And we’re a better football team with Saquon here.”
Schoen deflected the question of Barkley’s future with the team beyond 2023. Asked if the Giants would franchise tag Barkley again for the 2024 season, he said “we’re just going to take it day by day from here on out.”
‘I’m just glad he’s here. There’s nothing we can do about that [lack of a long-term deal].”
So, all of this Barkley drama will likely come to the surface again next offseason when the Giants could tag Barkley again at $12.1 million, reach a multi-year deal with the running back, or let him enter the free agent market.
“I think everyone loves Saquon. We appreciate him. We love him as a player, as a teammate, and I think everybody’s ecstatic that he’s here,” Schoen said.
So, Wednesday was a love-fest. Even if there are still decisions to be made after the season.
The Barkley news was followed Wednesday morning by the announcement that left tackle Andrew Thomas had signed a five-year, $117 million contract extension that would keep him with the Giants until 2029 should he play it out.
Schoen signed Barkley, Thomas, Daniel Jones and Dexter Lawrence — all home grown players — to contracts totaling $283.6 million in guaranteed money this offseason. The GM said when he took the job before the 2022 season that he wasn’t a tear it down and rebuild kind of guy. He is showing it by identifying and paying a core of players who were in place before he was to build around.
“I think a lot of those guys earned it, you know, off the way they played in 2022,” Schoen said. “Getting to know ‘em as people and how they work, they’re pros in every sense of the word. All of those guys have earned what they’ve gotten. Look forward to them being here for a long time.
“You’re always looking the short term and then you’re looking at a long term plan and as we went into the offseason, some of the longer deals that we did, those were longer term plans based on age, durability, where they fit,” Schoen said. “Just thankful that we have the resources to do that.
“We had a plan in the offseason. It’s a long offseason, kind of culminating today with getting Andrew done, which was really important for us.”
So, what looked like it might be a tumultuous beginning to training camp for the Giants just 48 hours ago turned into a good day. Only time will tell if those good vibes carry into the regular season.