John Mara

John Mara Voiced Support For Giants Retaining Saquon Barkley, Did Not Force Re-Signing

HBO’s Hard Knocks: Offseason debut has included John Mara cameos, with the owner staying involved in the team’s effort (or lack thereof) to retain Saquon Barkley. After GM Joe Schoen ran down the team’s priorities, Mara still makes it somewhat clear he wants his staff to keep the door open for a return.

As the legal tampering period began, the Giants‘ front office — after passing on a second franchise tag and informing Barkley no offer will come before he hits the market — braced for a departure. After Schoen informed Mara of a text he received that the Bears were driving up Barkley’s price, the owner voiced his long-held preference for the seventh-year veteran to be re-signed. Though, Mara ultimately did not stand in Schoen’s way.

I’ll have a tough time sleeping if Saquon goes to Philadelphia, I’ll tell you that,” Mara told Schoen. “As I’ve told you, just being around enough players, he’s the most popular player we have, by far.”

The Bears made D’Andre Swift the first commitment of this year’s tampering period, giving the former Eagles and Lions starter a three-year, $24MM deal. That ended up being second among RBs this offseason, with Barkley’s three-year, $37.75MM Eagles deal ($26MM guaranteed at signing) the runaway winner. Swift’s price tag ultimately led to the Eagles pursuing Barkley.

While Barkley’s agent indeed brought the RB’s Philly offer back to the Giants, Schoen did not receive assurances the two-time Pro Bowler would return if the team matched it.

I told the agent, I said if we match that deal, he’s going to be a Giant,” Schoen said in a conversation with Mara on March 11. “And he’s like, ‘Well…’ You know, he hemmed and hawed, he’s like, ‘I’m not saying that; we’ve got a lot of work to do if that happens.'”

This led to Schoen confirming to Barkley’s agent that the team would not match, keying a separation after six years. Upon receiving the news of the offer Barkley fetched, Schoen told Barkley’s agent the team was out. Barkley’s agent did not initially tell Schoen who made the offer, but the Giants belatedly learned the Eagles did so. Barkley confirmed months ago the Giants did not submit him a proposal to stay, indicating four teams made formal offers. It is fair to assume the Bears, along with the Texans, joined the Eagles in doing so.

Receiving Brian Daboll‘s recommendation, Schoen pivoted to Devin Singletary on a three-year, $16.5MM deal with $9.5MM guaranteed at signing. After Giants pro scouting director Chris Rossetti read the news of the Eagles’ deal with Barkley, Schoen told Mara, “We’re gonna be fine.” As Mara walked out of the meeting with Schoen and Rossetti upon hearing the news of Barkley’s Philly pledge, it appears he agreed.

Mara not strong-arming Schoen to keep Barkley reflects a belief in the third-year GM, and it was not made clear the Penn State alum would have passed on a Philly deal even if New York matched the terms. The Giants did not reach $26MM fully guaranteed at the July 2023 franchise tag deadline, and Schoen’s comments leading up to free agency prepared Mara for Barkley’s exit. Based on Mara’s comments during the early hours of free agency, is safe to assume the owner will be closely monitoring how Barkley fares with the Eagles. This will obviously be a key determinant in Schoen’s long-term Giants future.

Giants Owner John Mara OKs First-Round QB

The Giants’ quarterback situation in 2024 is, as usual, an interesting one. For the sixth year in a row, it seems like New York will enter the season with a plan to start Daniel Jones at quarterback while also hedging their bets a bit. To wit, team owner John Mara reportedly gave his coaching staff and personnel department the green light to draft a quarterback with their No. 6 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, per Jordan Raanan of ESPN.

With a top-ten selection in a strong quarterback class, the opportunity is certainly there to add one of the draft’s top quarterbacks. Unfortunately, a strong quarterback class doesn’t mean a deep one. Due to NIL opportunities convincing mid- to late-round passers to stay in school, this year’s quarterbacks crop is a bit top-heavy, so if you need to add a young arm to the roster, you may be forced to do so early.

It appears that seems to be the plan in New York. The team has hosted Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy and North Carolina’s Drake Maye, both favorites at one point to go No. 2 overall behind USC quarterback Caleb Williams. Although it would likely take a massive trade to acquire him, the Giants have done their homework on Williams, as well, sending general manager Joe Schoen to his pro day in Los Angeles.

Regardless of the work being put in by the team’s personnel group, the plan is for Jones to be under center in Week 1 of the 2024 season. Mara has been adamant recently in his belief in Jones, citing the quarterback’s 2022 season as an indicator of what the 26-year-old is capable of doing in an interview with Mike Garafolo of NFL Network. This won’t stop the team from adding to the room this offseason as Jones works his way back from a torn ACL.

Still, this past season is also an example of what we’ve seen with Jones in his career. Including the 2022 season, in which he sat out Week 18 before the playoffs, Jones has yet to play in every game of an NFL season. Ignoring the technicality of the 2022 absence, Jones has still missed 23 of a possible 83 regular season games through the first five years of his career. This season also saw the troubling return of Jones’ struggles with turnovers, though the team points to his injuries this season as the cause for that. You can have all the confidence in the world in Jones, but it’s still smart to consider investing in a young arm in case Jones continues to miss games or in case the Jones from 2022 never shows up again.

In addition to voicing his support for Jones, Mara also backed head coach Brian Daboll after a turbulent 2023 season. According to Connor Hughes of SNY, while he sometimes wishes Daboll would “tone it down,” Mara doesn’t believe that the coach acts irrationally and hasn’t asked him to change.

Latest On Giants, Saquon Barkley

MARCH 30: After making that $12.5MM-per-year offer during the season, the Giants upped it to $13MM ahead of the franchise tag deadline, Dan Duggan of The Athletic notes (subscription required). With the Cowboys cutting Ezekiel Elliott, a $13MM-AAV deal would rank third among running backs — between the Christian McCaffreyAlvin Kamara tier and the glut of deals in the $12MM-per-year neighborhood. Schoen and Mara would like to finalize a deal, but the sides may need to work their way back to this price point, as nothing is imminent.

MARCH 28: The Giants were able to beat the franchise tag deadline with minutes to spare and sign quarterback Daniel Jones to a long-term deal. Doing so allowed them to place the franchise tag on running back Saquon Barkley, which guarantees he will remain in New York for 2023, but leaves his future beyond that point in doubt.

Barkley, 26, is set to earn $10.1MM this season if he plays on the tag. He and the Giants have until mid-July to reach an agreement on a multi-year extension, but the market hasn’t lent itself to big-money accords for running backs so far. In light of that, it remains to be seen if progress will be made in the coming weeks to re-engage in contract talks.

“There’s no outstanding offer right now,” Giants GM Joe Schoen said at the league meetings, via ESPN’s Dan Graziano. “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 couldn’t come to an agreement, we were going to go to the franchise tag, and that’s what we did.”

New York initially saw the former No. 2 pick as the higher priority for a new deal, but later turned their attention to working out an extension with Jones. The Giants have reportedly been willing to reach the $12.5MM-per-year mark with Barkley, but in-season negotiations didn’t yield much in the way of traction for an extension; it came out earlier this month that an increased offer was unlikely. Even though they appeared prepared to let the Penn State alum hit the open market this year, it remains the team’s goal to keep Barkley in the fold for years to come.

“I told Saquon we want him to be a Giant for his entire career,” owner John Mara said. “The running back market is what it is right now, but I’m still hopeful at some point we will come to an agreement… I told him how much I wanted him to be a Giant and to play his whole career as a Giant… And I think he would like that as well.”

Mara also acknowledged, to no surprise, that Barkley is unhappy with having been tagged. His compensation, if he plays on the tag in 2023, will put him in a tie for eighth (with fellow tag recipients Josh Jacobs and Tony Pollard) amongst RBs in terms of annual value. Earlier in the negotiation process, Barkley was said to not be eyeing a market-resetting deal even after he delivered a career-high 1,312 rushing yards as the focal point of the Giants’ offense in 2022. A new accord moving him into the top-five at the position would not be a surprising target, however.

Giants head coach Brian Daboll noted that he has not been in communication with Barkley for two weeks, and that he remains uncertain if the latter will report to voluntary OTAs next month (Twitter link via Dan Duggan of The Athletic). Barkley’s actions in the near future will increasingly become a storyline worth following if the offseason drags on without progress being made on an extension.

Latest Details On Joe Judge’s Firing

In the aftermath of Joe Judge‘s dismissal from the Giants, new details have emerged regarding his meeting with ownership and their desire for congruency with the new general manager. Judge himself has also spoken publicly for the first time since learning his fate. 

[Related: Giants Fire Joe Judge]

Majority owner John Mara detailed his frustration with the situation in a press conference, detailing why the decision was ultimately made to fire Judge. When asked, Mara admitted that “he has never been this embarrassed by the state of his franchise”, as noted by ESPN’s Jordan Raanan. Mara noted that flashpoints such as Judge’s 11-minute post-game rant after the loss to the Bears and consecutive quarterback sneaks in the regular season finale played a small role in the decision to fire him.

Ultimately, is seems the need for a new GM drove the decision to move on from Judge more than anything else. Raanan notes that “the move to dismiss Judge seems to largely have been made to give the new GM flexibility [in the HC hiring process]”, although the team is not looking at whomever fills the two vacancies as a package deal. Mara used the word “rushed” to describe the hiring of now-retired GM Dave Gettleman in 2017, and stressed that the team’s approach will be more meticulous this time.

Still, there is a clear desire for the new coach and general manager to be “on the same page”, according to a tweet from SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano. He adds that Judge talked with ownership about GM candidates, and that Judge “thought there would be even more discussions, that he’d be part of the process”. Obviously that wasn’t the case, as Mara felt the only way forward was to “completely [blow] it up and [start] all over again”, even though he believes in Judge’s abilities as a coach.

In his first public remarks since being fired, Judge issued a statement which reads in part, “I want to express how truly grateful I am for the opportunity to be the head coach of the New York Giants. Thank you to the Mara and Tisch families, to the organization and incredible support staff and to the fans… It was a privilege to represent these people during the past two years“.

With regards to the other members of his staff, he added, “I also want to express my appreciation to the coaching staff… I am proud to have worked with the group of men we had and grateful for each and every one of them”. He also addressed the players, saying, “To the current Giants players, thank you most of all… I am so proud of you, grateful for you, and I believe in you“.

Judge concluded with, “On behalf of me and my family, we leave New York with the utmost gratitude for the community, the organization, the people and the team. Thank you“. No candidates to replace him have been named as of yet.

Dave Gettleman Officially Announces Retirement

It’s official: the Giants are in need of a new General Manager. The club released an announcement that Dave Gettleman has retired from his position as Senior Vice President and General Manager. 

After informing owners John Mara and Steve Tisch of his decision, Gettleman said, ““It was a privilege to serve as the general manager of the New York Giants the last four years and to have spent so many years of my career with this franchise. We obviously have not had the on-the-field success I expected, and that is disappointing. However, I have many fond memories here, including two Super Bowl victories, and I wish the team and organization only the best moving forward. There are many good people here who pour their souls into this organization. I am proud to have worked alongside them.”

In a joint statement, Mara and Tisch said, “We would like to thank Dave for his commitment to this franchise. Dave was integral in building three of our Super Bowl teams, including two championship teams, and we wish Dave, his wife Joanne and their entire family all the best in his retirement.”

It has been widely expected for quite some time that Gettleman was going to step down from his position. As a result, many names have been floated as potential replacements. Perhaps the name at the top of that list is current Assistant GM Kevin Abrams – someone who has been labelled a “strong contender” for the job. On the other hand, many believe that the club will stray from its tendency to promote from within, and that the successful candidate may not have ties with Head Coach Joe Judge.

Regarding the search for a new GM, Mara went on to say that, “We are looking for a person who demonstrates exceptional leadership and communication abilities, somebody who will oversee all aspects of our football operations, including player personnel, college scouting and coaching”. 

The Giants have become the third team with a GM vacancy, joining the Vikings and Bears after they fired Rick Spielman and Ryan Pace, respectively, on Monday. News from the morning, however, suggests that Judge will be staying on – something that had been expected throughout the Giants’ 4-13 season.

NFC East Notes: Parsons, McAdoo, Giants

The Cowboys are more than happy that they landed on linebacker Micah Parsons with the 12th-overall pick in this year’s draft. Parsons has started each of his 11 games for Dallas, collecting 67 tackles, nine sacks, and two forced fumbles, and he’s the runaway favorite to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. However, if the Cowboys had had their way, they would have used their selection on a cornerback.

As Jon Machota of The Athletic writes, the team’s “original plan” was to select either South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn or Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II. However, those cornerbacks were scooped up at No. 8 and No. 9 respectively, forcing the front office to pivot. They ended up landing on the Penn State linebacker (after trading down), and the organization couldn’t be happier with how it all turned out.

Parsons explained to Machota how he continues to improve throughout his first season in the NFL.

“People always talk about the rookie wall,” Parsons said, “but I just keep climbing and climbing because I’m excited to see what’s on the other side of that wall.

“I love what we have here. I’m just so honored and blessed to represent the star and have an opportunity to be a star here.”

Some more notes out of the NFC East…

  • The Cowboys are dealing with COVID-19 cases throughout their staff, so they’ll be temporarily promoting Ben McAdoo to a coaching role, tweets NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. McAdoo, who had been serving as a “consultant to the coaches” in Dallas, will be in the coaches booth for tomorrow’s game against the Saints. The 44-year-old spent two years as the Giants head coach between 2016 and 2017, and he returned to the NFL last season when he was hired as the Jaguars QBs coach.
  • Guess who else liked Horn and Surtain? The Giants, according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post, but the Eagles’ decision to trade up (with the Cowboys, no less) to select wideout DeVonta Smith was the move that really threw New York’s draft into disarray. With the organization’s targets off the board, the team ultimately decided to trade with the Bears, with the Giants selecting wideout Kadarius Toney at No. 20.
  • Another Cowboys/Giants connection: Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv writes that the Joe Judge/Jason Garrett pairing in New York was always an “arranged marriage.” Co-owner John Mara was the one who pushed to add Garrett as the team’s offensive coordinator, and the former Cowboys head coach was an “outlier” on a staff that generally had connections to their head coach. Garrett was ultimately canned by Judge and the Giants in late November after the team had collected a league-low 42 touchdowns.
  • Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports opines that the Giants should go all out on Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson this offseason. The writer cites the organization’s draft capital (which, at the moment, includes picks No. 6 and No. 7), Daniel Jones‘ disappointment in New York, and Wilson’s supposed desire to play in the Big Apple. Assuming GM Dave Gettleman is out after the season, this would be a bold way for a new GM to begin their tenure, but the writer believes this would be preferable to rolling with Jones or drafting a quarterback in a weak class.

Latest On Giants GM Dave Gettleman’s Job Status

The Giants have gone 15-33 since Dave Gettleman took over as general manager, but president and co-owner John Mara wouldn’t go as far as to say the executive was on the hot seat.

“We’re all on the hot seat with our fans in particular, we’ve given them too many losing seasons…it’s time to start winning,” Mara told reporters today when he was asked about Gettleman’s spot on the hot seat (via SNY on Twitter). “But, no I wouldn’t say that’s an accurate statement.”

The owner didn’t reveal any specific mandate to make the playoffs, and he hinted that incremental improvements could be enough for everyone (including the head coach and quarterback) to keep their gigs in 2022. However, Mara also acknowledged that the organization can’t take a step back in 2021.

“I gave the same answer last year, I think, but when I walk off the field after the last game, whenever that is, I want to feel like ‘Does this group give us a chance to win the Super Bowl? Are we moving in that direction?’” Mara said (via Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv). “If the answer to that is yes, then we’re not going to consider making big changes. If I feel like we’re going backwards, that’s another discussion.”

“I’ll look at that at the end of the season and see whether I think we’re continuing to make progress and moving in the right direction, but I’m not issuing a playoff mandate,” Mara added. “I don’t think those ever do any good. I don’t think I need to say or do anything to motivate the people in this building any more than they’re already motivated. They all want to win.”

The Giants’ six wins in 2020 was their best showing in three years. While seven wins probably wouldn’t be tolerable among Giants fans, it just might be enough for Gettleman and co. to keep their jobs.

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.

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.