After utilizing the franchise tag on running back Saquon Barkley to keep him off the open market, the New York Giants have until July 17 to agree on a solution to keep the former first-round pick in the Big Apple long-term.
Speaking Monday from the Annual League Meeting, owner John Mara said that's how he hopes it plays out.
"I told Saquon this: We want him to be a Giant for his entire career if that's possible," Mara said. "We'd love to him. He provides leadership, he's a great player and we'd like to be able to get something done with him at some point. The running back market is what it is right now. I'm still hopeful at some point we'll come to an agreement."
The running back market is soft and only getting softer. The top three RBs slated to hit free agency -- Barkley, Tony Pollard and Josh Jacobs -- were all hit with the $10.091 million franchise tag. The top free agent, Miles Sanders, signed a four-year deal with Carolina worth $25.4 million with $13 million guaranteed, a $6.35 million-per-year average -- well below the likes of Christian McCaffrey ($16.015M) and Alvin Kamara ($15M). Even stud back Aaron Jones took a pay cut to remain in Green Bay rather than risk being cut and heading to the market.
So, yes, the Giants want to remain in business with Barkley. But actions will speak louder than words.
Giants general manager Joe Schoen said the club is "fine" with Barkley playing 2023 on the franchise tag.
"I mean, where does that rank him among the running backs in the league?" Schoen noted.
The answer is tied for the eighth-most, but the comment suggests the Giants believe $10.091 million is plenty high enough for a running back.
Schoen added he's been in contact with Barkley's agent, but the pre-franchise tag offer for the RB is no longer on the table.
"There's no outstanding offer right now," Schoen said. "Once we put the franchise tag on him, we stepped back. We knew throughout the negotiation that there was going to be a time where, if we can't come to an agreement, we were going to go to the franchise tag, and that's what we did."
Taking the pre-tag offer off the table is an interesting move for a club that insists it wants to keep Barkley in town long-term.
Pulling the offer suggests the Giants are comfortable with Barkley playing out the one-year tender. But there remains time for sides to return to the table before mid-July. After all, they're an organization that took the deadline to get Daniel Jones under contract right down to the wire.