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New York Giants players react to Saquon Barkley signing

Teammates “thrilled” to have star running back on the field

NFL: New York Giants Training Camp
Coach Brian Daboll pats Saquon Barkley on the helmet during Wednesday’s practice.
Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New York Giants general manager Joe Schoen was not the only member of the organization “ecstatic” to see Saquon Barkley on the practice field Wednesday as the Giants opened 2023 training camp. Barkley’s teammates were, as well.

“We’re obviously thrilled to have him back,” said quarterback Daniel Jones, who got a four-year, $160 million deal ($81 million fully guaranteed) from the Giants this offseason. “It was a tough situation for him, and I’m glad that we got it worked out. He’s an incredible leader on this team. He’s an incredible player and means so much to this group. So yeah, it’s huge to get him back.”

The Giants gave big money to Jones, but never intended to make that commitment to him and take Barkley — the team’s best offensive player — away from him.

Barkley may not be thrilled to be playing on an amended franchise tag that gives him $909,000 in incentives above the $10.1 million tag value. Jones doesn’t think that will affect the running back.

“I expect him to be himself,” Jones said. “He’s a dynamic player, and that’s certainly what we expect.”

Safety Xavier McKinney was happy to see Barkley at practice, even if the running back did torch McKinney for a touchdown with a toe-tapping sideline grab during a 7-on-7 drill.

“I was glad that it was able to get done,” McKinney said. “Obviously, we are all glad to have him ... We just know what he means to our team.”

Building a core

The Giants committed $377 million — $283.6 million of that guaranteed — to Barkley, Thomas, Jones and Dexter Lawrence this offseason. Those are four players the organization drafted before Schoen was the GM and Brian Daboll the head coach.

“We’ve got a number of players who have now been here for a few years and understand what it means to be a New York Giant, and then what it means to play for Coach Daboll and his system and what he wants kind of the culture and the feel in the locker room to be,” Jones said. “We’ve got a great group of leaders, great group of young guys who know what that is, and who embody that and really take to that every day.”

Thomas, whose five-year, $117 million ($67 million guaranteed) extension was announced Wednesday, seconded the idea that the signings are good for the team’s future.

“I think it’s good,” Thomas said. “(We have a) good young group of guys. A lot of the guys are leaders (and) our team captains and I think that’s good for the movement of where we’re trying to go.”