John Mara

Giants “Not In Any Hurry” To Extend RB Saquon Barkley

The Giants have eagerly dished out cash this offseason, but that doesn’t mean Saquon Barkley will benefit from the spending spree. Speaking to reporters, Giants owner John Mara said an extension for the running back isn’t coming any time soon.

[RELATED: Giants Undecided On Saquon Barkley’s Fifth-Year Option]

“We’re not in any hurry to do that,” Mara said (via SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano on Twitter). “We fully expect him to be as good as new. … We hope he’s going to be a Giant for life. At the appropriate time, we’ll start those discussions.”

The former second-overall pick quickly established himself as one of the top running backs in the league, averaging 1,734.5 yards from scrimmage and 11.5 touchdowns per season through his first two years in the NFL. However, after missing a handful of games in 2019, Barkley was limited to only two games in 2020 before suffering a season-ending ACL injury.

The 24-year-old is about to enter the final year of his four-year rookie contract, but he has an affordable fifth-year option that’s valued at only $7.2MM. Barkley is also eligible to sign an extension after having spent three years in the league. Despite the modest fifth-year salary, it isn’t guaranteed that the running back has his option picked up. Earlier this month, GM Dave Gettleman didn’t seem to commit one way or the other, hinting that health could be a concern.

The Giants may be dragging their feet with the fifth-year option (and the subsequent extension), but Mara still made it clear that he wants Barkley to spend the rest of his career in New York. This Giants are likely doing their due diligence before committing to any future deals with the star running back.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Coaches, GMs, Schedule, OTAs

After the NFL expanded the Rooney Rule this offseason, it has a “ready list” of minority candidates for head coaching jobs, offensive and defensive coordinator positions and GM candidates, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. Beyond some of the big names — Eric Bieniemy, Marvin Lewis, Todd Bowles, Leslie Frazier among them — coaches like Clemson OC Tony Elliott, Penn State HC James Franklin and Michigan State HC Mel Tucker appear on the HC portion of the list. On the GM side, some first-time candidates include Bills pro scouting director Malik Boyd, Raiders pro scouting director Dwayne Joseph, Ravens exec Vincent Newsome and Chargers player personnel director JoJo Wooden. Former Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson — now the franchise’s pro scouting director — also appears on the GM portion of the list. The Rooney Rule now mandates teams interview two minority HC candidates and expanded the rule to include coordinator positions. Franchises must also open their senior-level executive jobs to minority and female candidates.

Here is the latest from around the league:

  • Normal NFL offseasons feature several weeks’ worth of OTAs preceding a June minicamp, but the NFLPA would like a schedule that looks closer to this year’s virtual offseason. Union executive director DeMaurice Smith said “there is absolutely no reason” for the NFL to return to full-scale OTAs, per Sports Business Daily’s Ben Fischer (subscription required). Having seen no decline in performance after this atypical offseason, union president J.C. Tretter agrees with Smith. This would be a stretch for coaching staffs, which have steadily seen their time with players cut back. The past two CBA agreements have significantly limited offseason and padded training camp workouts, and 2020’s COVID-19-altered offseason created steeper acclimation challenges for young players.
  • The NFL has agreed to a formula for its 17th regular-season game, making it increasingly likely this season will be the last one of the 16-game era. In what will be the first shift to the league’s scheduling setup since 2002, the 17-game schedule will feature a fifth interconference game. The schedule will pit an AFC division winner against an NFC division winner, and on down the line within each division, but the extra interconference game will not feature two teams who played the previous year, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. In the event the NFL moves to the 17-game season in 2021, the Chiefs and Buccaneers could not play again next season; the earliest such a regular-season rematch would occur would be 2022.
  • Roger Goodell may well be on board with shortening the preseason slate from four games to two. The commissioner “seemed in favor” of halving the preseason schedule at last week’s owners meetings, according to ESPN.com’s Seth Wickersham, but some high-profile owners are not. Jerry Jones, Robert Kraft, John Mara and Art Rooney II dismissed the idea of going from three preseason games — the new number as of the 2020 CBA — to two, according to ESPN. No vote occurred on the matter, though Goodell discussing the idea publicly points to it remaining an issue going forward.

Latest On Giants’ Coaching Search

Once thought to be the Giants’ No. 1 candidate, Jim Schwartz looks like he will be a bit behind in Big Blue’s search.

The Eagles’ DC received an interview request, but the sides have yet to schedule said summit, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). If nothing transpires by Sunday, the Giants will have to wait until the Eagles are eliminated to meet with Schwartz. Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter) the Giants don’t have a Sunday interview scheduled; he labels Schwartz as being on the back-burner.

While waiting hasn’t been a deal-breaker for some teams in the past, the Giants and Schwartz — attached in rumors for weeks — not conducting an interview before he prepares for Philadelphia’s divisional-round game could cause the team to pivot away from the former Lions boss. The Eagles are not a highly regarded No. 1 seed presently, but in a hotly contested coaching market that’s seen three Giants interviewees also take meetings elsewhere, the team could opt to move forward with other candidates to stave off competitors. Schwartz has met with the Cardinals about their HC vacancy.

Big Blue has already met with Steve Spagnuolo, Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia and Pat Shurmur, whom Raanan notes (on Twitter) interviewed Saturday. The Giants still plan to meet with both Eric Studesville and Steve Wilks early next week, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv tweets. The Carolina DC would be eligible to meet with New York’s representatives after the Panthers-Saints game, whether his team wins or loses.

Dave Gettleman, John Mara and assistant GM Kevin Abrams are meeting with the HC candidates, per Vacchiano (on Twitter), who adds co-owner Steve Tisch will meet with candidates as the team moves closer to a final decision.

Giants To Interview Interim GM Kevin Abrams

Giants interim general manager Kevin Abrams confirmed he will interview for the full-time job, reports Newsday’s Tom Rock.

A longtime assistant to former GM Jerry Reese, who was fired on Dec. 4, Abrams is expected to meet with owners John Mara and Steve Tisch some time next week though Abrams only confirmed it will take place before the season is over.

One piece of information that gives Abrams a leg up on the competition is the fact New York hasn’t hired a GM from outside the organization since it tabbed George Young in 1979. Abrams joined the Giants 15 years ago and has worked prevalently with the salary cap, though he claims, “I wasn’t raised to be a cap guy; it was just the opportunity that was given to me.”

Shortly after the firing of Reese, who had served as GM since 2007, the MMQB’s Peter King talked with several NFL executives who named Minnesota’s George Paton, Green Bay’s Eliot Wolf and Philadelphia’s Joe Douglas as three of the top new candidates from around the league. He also mentioned former Chiefs GM Scott Pioli and Ravens assistant GM Eric DeCosta among the veterans who could surface in the search.

Latest On Giants’ Coach, GM Search

Ben McAdoo‘s stint in New York was short and ended without a championship, but he did make history in his own way. McAdoo was at the helm for just 28 regular-season games, giving him the lowest total by a Giants head coach since 1930 (as noted by Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, via Twitter). In that season, Benny Friedman spent two games as a co-player-coach.

Starting today, the Giants are officially looking to fill vacancies at head coach and GM. Here’s the latest out of New York/New Jersey:

  • Giants owner John Mara says his “very strong preference” is to have a separate head coach and GM. However, he does not rule out a dual role if the right candidate emerges (Twitter link via Ralph Vacchiano of SNY).
  • Mara says that both interim hires (GM Kevin Abrams and head coach Steve Spagnuolo) will be interviewed for the full-time jobs (Twitter link via Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com). Personally, I don’t think the odds are in Spagnuolo’s favor, even though he is well-regarded by the organization. After a disastrous 2017 season, it seems more likely that the Giants will opt for a reset when it comes to the next head coach.
  • Reese was not responsible for the firing of Tom Coughlin and subsequent hiring of McAdoo, Kinkhabwala tweets. When Coughlin was fired, Reese advocated for two candidates over McAdoo.
  • Former Giants GM Ernie Accorsi has agreed to serve as a consultant in the GM search, Mara announced (Twitter link via team). The owner added that it is possible that a GM hire will be made before the season is through, noting that the team already has some names in mind (Twitter link via Kinkhabwala).
  • Mara says that McAdoo is the one who initially came up with the plan to bench Eli Manning (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson).

Giants Owner John Mara On Eli Manning

The Giants’ decision to bench Eli Manning on Sunday ignited a firestorm of controversy in the football world. On Wednesday, owner John Mara addressed reporters directly to discuss the future of the team’s quarterback position as well as the job security of head coach Ben McAdoo and GM Jerry Reese. Here’s a look at the highlights with all links going to Twitter: John Mara (vertical)

  • Mara says the Giants “obviously have some decisions to make this offseason” when it comes to the head coach and GM positions (link via Tom Rock of Newsday). Some say that McAdoo has lost control of the locker room, as underscored by the team’s saga with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie earlier this year. Meanwhile, Reese has been criticized for failing to build the team through the draft in recent years.
  • Mara is adamant that the original plan was for Manning to play on Sunday, but perhaps not for the whole game (link via Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com). However, he says he understands why Manning wasn’t on board and admitted that it probably could have been handled differently.
  • I don’t think you should be writing his obituary just yet,” Mara said when asked about Manning’s future in New York (link via Raanan). Still, the Giants have a big decision to make before March 14th, the date that Manning’s $5MM roster bonus comes due.
  • Mara says he first suggested to Reese a week or two ago that it might be time to look at other quarterbacks (link via Raanan).
  • Any suggestion that the Giants are tanking is “complete [B.S.],” Mara says (link via James Kratch of NJ.com). A reminder: The Giants are 2-9 and will start Geno Smith under center on Sunday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Fallout From Eli Manning Benching

The second-longest start streak in quarterback history will come to an end after the Giants decided to bench Eli Manning in favor of Geno Smith. This naturally leads to speculation that the 36-year-old quarterback has played his final down with the team. In his Tuesday press conference, Ben McAdoo did not specify the role Jerry Reese and John Mara played in making the move to bench Manning, via Ed Werder (on Twitter). McAdoo merely said all parties were in agreement. The second-year Giants coach also said the team is not considering waiving Manning, who has two years and more than $40MM remaining on his contract. Smith is not under contract beyond 2017.

Here’s more from the Giants cutting the cord on Manning after 210 starts.

  • Tom Coughlin came out in support of his former quarterback and said he was “very upset” to hear the news Manning had been benched. “My sentiments are totally with Eli Manning,” the Jaguars‘ executive VP said (via NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo, on Twitter). “I love the kid. He is a class act. He is a two-time Super Bowl champion. He is the finest, most humblest young man in that locker room. I haven’t followed the Giants. I know it’s a disappointing year by my thoughts are strictly with Eli. I’m very upset about when I heard that.” This stands to naturally fuel buzz about Manning being a 2018 Jaguars target. Coughlin running the Jags, who can cut bait on Blake Bortles‘ non-guaranteed 2018 option before free agency, and their rebuilt defense thriving makes north Florida a logical fit.
  • Manning has a no-trade clause in his contract, but after Tuesday’s events, the two-time Super Bowl MVP may be more inclined to waive it for a chance at another starting job. Conor Orr of SI.com lists the Jaguars as a fit, while placing the Broncos and Cardinals as the other top two destinations. The Broncos are in a similar place to the Jags, only with their quarterback woes having removed them from a Super Bowl perch, and the Cardinals will likely again be waiting on a Carson Palmer retirement decision. The Palmer-to-Manning switch would be interesting given that Palmer is only a month older than Manning.
  • As for a Manning/Coughlin reunion, Joel Corry of CBS Sports tweets the Jags could create $19MM in cap space by cutting Bortles after this season. That option doesn’t become fully guaranteed until Day 5 of the 2018 league year (March 14). Prior to a Bortles cut, the Jags have just more than $30MM in projected 2018 cap space. The Broncos have $32MM-plus, and the Cardinals — with Palmer’s 2018 salary on their books as of now — stand to hold more than $35MM.
  • This decision was certainly brought down from higher than McAdoo, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com writes, and the current HC feels like the next scapegoat for the Giants’ woeful season. Reese should be on the chopping block as well, Graziano writes, noting that were that to happen, there would be front office and scouting department turnover as well as a likely McAdoo ouster.
  • Manning will be due a $5MM roster bonus on March 14 if he’s still on the Giants, per Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Yates adds the Giants can save $9.8MM if Manning is cut or traded, but they’ll be taking on $12.4MM in that scenario. Manning has a $22.2MM cap figure in 2018 and a $23.2MM number in ’19. Manning’s $10.5MM base salary next season is non-guaranteed.

NFC Notes: Hyde, Ngata, McAdoo, Bucs QBs

Despite the noise of a Carlos Hyde trade, Kyle Shanahan attempted to put an end to those rumors during a media session today. Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee passes along that the first-year 49ers head coach said that the reports of a speculative trade involving the running back were “absolutely, absolutely 100 percent false.” The rumors started to pick up after San Francisco was making calls to teams about now-former 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman. Despite the pushback, rookie Matt Breida has slowly started to cut into Hyde’s touches in recent weeks. The former Georgia Southern running back had his first double-digit carry game two weeks ago against the Colts, even though the rookie touched the ball just six times this past Sunday. Nevertheless, the 49ers are still winless through six weeks, which means that the trade winds will continue to swirl around the team with the deadline just a few weeks away.

  • Building off the news that Ben McAdoo gave up play calling to offenisve coordinator Mike Sullivan for their Sunday night contest against the Broncos, it is now known that neither owner John Mara nor Giants executive chairman Steve Tisch asked the head coach to give up the offensive playbook, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. It would seem that McAdoo made this decision on his own with the results being positive thus far as the team shocked many by going into Denver and winning by double digits.
  • Now that Haloti Ngata is out for the season with a torn biceps, the question remains: Just how long will the 33-year-old continue to play in the NFL? The Lions defensive lineman told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press that he has not made any decision about the future yet. “We’ll have to see. To be determined,” Ngata told the pressThe veteran has not been the same player he was with the Ravens since he joined Detroit in 2015. Ngata did show signs of life this seasn, racking up two sacks in the team’s first five games, which matched the halfway mark of the number of QB takedowns he put up in the two seasons prior.
  • Although Jameis Winston left last Sunday’s game because of a shoulder injury, the Buccaneers still don’t expect to sign another QB for this week’s affair against the Bills, tweets Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. Auman reports that Tampa Bay seems to be comfortable with Winston suiting up as an emergency backup for Ryan Fitzpatrick, if he can’t start. The move sounds a bit risky considering that the team still does not have a third-string QB with Ryan Griffin currently working to get off the IR. However, the news may be encouraging to some as it seems Winston has most likely avoided a long-term injury.

NFC Notes: Eagles, 49ers, Giants, Seahawks

The Eagles have been shopping defensive lineman Taylor Hart around the NFL, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Hart doesn’t have an overly appealing track record in the league, however. The 2014 fifth-round pick from Oregon was on the Eagles’ 53-man roster throughout his rookie year, but he failed to log any appearances. In 14 games last season, the 6-foot-6, 281-pounder partook in 27 percent of the Eagles’ defensive snaps and made 27 tackles.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • When asked to characterize his association with Trent Baalke, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick said he and the GM have a “business relationship” (via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle). Further, in response to Baalke’s comment last week that he and Kaepernick broke their months-long silence with a” good conversation,” the signal-caller simply referred to it as a “conversation.”
  • Giants owner John Mara the Josh Brown situation on Wednesday and said the club was in fact aware of both the domestic allegations against the kicker and his arrest (via Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com). Nothing has happened since to change the Giants’ opinion on re-signing him in April.
  • Because the Seahawks made such a minimal investment in Jahri Evans (one year, minimum salary benefit with $80K guaranteed), it’s uncertain if the veteran guard is a lock for the club’s final roster. As Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times writes, Seattle is pleased with the play of left guard Mark Glowinski and first-round right guard Germain Ifedi, so a starting spot for Evans might not be available.
  • As of now, the Saints and contract-year quarterback still aren’t progressing toward an extension.

Connor Byrne contributed to this post.

NFC East Notes: Robinson, Weddle, Giants

Here’s the latest from the NFC East as Week 2 of free agency concludes.

  • Patrick Robinson and Alfred Morris are scheduled to meet with Cowboys position coaches tonight and Monday after arriving in Dallas today. The former Chargers cornerback and Washington running back, however, spent time on the phone with Jason Garrett before he left for the NFL Owners’ Meetings in South Florida, Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones told media, including David Moore of the Dallas Morning News. “Jason’s spent some good time on the phone with them,” Jones said. “So have we. Obviously, we tried to get them in there before we left but in their particular cases it didn’t work out that way.”
  • Jones told media, including Moore, Eric Weddle was interested in joining the Cowboys, but the team wasn’t ready to go where the Ravens were financially to secure the 31-year-old safety’s services. Interested in coming to Dallas partially due to special teams coach Rich Bisaccia having been on the Chargers’ staff in 2011-12, Weddle ended up landing in Baltimore for four years and $26MM. Both Bisaccia and Garrett contacted Weddle during free agency, however, Moore reports.
  • John Mara and his top front office assistants thought the Giants had a realistic shot of signing two of the three high-priced players on Big Blue’s list of durable, in-their-prime free agents, Jordan Raanan of NJ.com reports. The cap-rich Giants instead landed their preferred defensive trio of Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison and Janoris Jenkins in hopes of fixing their last-ranked defense. Mara did concede that troika proved to be pricier than anticipated. “The three guys were a little more expensive than I thought they were going to be, but they are all young, they are all healthy and they fulfill needs,” Mara told media, including Raanan. Jenkins has missed four games in four seasons, while Vernon suited up for every Dolphins contest since 2012. Harrison played and started in each Jets contest since 2013. The Giants were the most injured team in the NFL in each of the past three seasons, per Raanan.
  • After allocating more money to this year’s class of free agents than they did in the previous four seasons combined, the Giants expect to dial it back significantly next spring, Mara told media, including Raanan (Twitter link). “I certainly don’t see us being this aggressive next year,” Mara said.