Running back Saquon Barkley and quarterback Daniel Jones have given the Giants’ front office a lot to think about in contract years. Jones was drafted in the first round a year after Barkley, but with New York declining his fifth-year option, Jones will join Barkley in free agency this offseason.
Barkley has been fairly straightforward about his intentions. “I wanted to show them the guy they drafted is still here,” he told reporters, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network. “Everyone knows I would love to be a Giant for life, but I really can’t give 100 percent answers.”
Barkley certainly proved what he set out to show. This year, Barkley had his best season since he won AP Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2018, earning his second career Pro Bowl bid. This was a much-needed big year for the 25-year-old from Penn State. He showed he could stay healthy for a full season after missing multiple games in each of the three years following his rookie campaign. In doing so, Barkley also proved his early-career production was no fluke. Just like in 2018, Barkley broke 1,300 rushing yards and reached double-digit touchdown numbers.
When Barkley was asked about what he’s looking for in a new contract, ESPN’s Jordan Raanan quoted him as saying, “I’m not really too concerned with resetting the [running back] market. I’m realistic.”
It’s reasonable for Barkley to take into account his injury history when considering how his new contract will rank all-time for the position. The silver lining of the situation is that, while his contract may not reach all-time heights, he should receive one of the richer contracts this offseason for a running back. Besides Raiders running back Josh Jacobs, Barkley had perhaps the most impressive contract year for any running back. Not only that, but an impressive field of free agent running backs should drive up the price for the top end prospects at the position like Barkley and Jacobs.
Jones, on the other hand, has not been nearly as forward with his intentions, until very recently. When asked to comment on reports that he and the Giants are close to an extension, Jones responded that he doesn’t “think there’s much truth” to the report, according to Ryan Dunleavy of the NY Post. Following a much-discussed non-answer from last night, Dunleavy further reported that Jones also clarified the situation saying that he loves the Giants and would prefer to stay in New York as long as the “business side” works out.
On the business side, Jones similarly gave New York a bit to think about. Like Barkley, Jones had his best season since his rookie campaign in 2019. Jones has always been pretty good at protecting the ball but went to another level this year when he led the NFL in interceptions per attempt.
Jones may not demand top-tier money as a free agent quarterback but leading the team to the playoffs for the first time since 2016 should help boost his value a bit. The biggest free agent quarterbacks this offseason are obviously going to be Lamar Jackson and Tom Brady, but after them, Jones will be competing for value with the likes of Geno Smith, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Jimmy Garoppolo, and others.
For what it’s worth, Fox Sports’ Ralph Vacchiano claims that there is little doubt that Jones and Barkley will return to New York next season. The only issue comes down to the details of how. Can both Jones and Barkley reach new deals with the team that drafted them? Will either of them get richer offers with other teams? Will the two be unable to reach new deals at all and find themselves playing under the franchise tag in 2023?
Both have made it known that there is a desire to stay with the Giants. Now, it will be up to general manager Joe Schoen and company in the front office to figure out how to keep them in blue.