Julian Love

S Julian Love Eyeing New Giants Deal

With their offseason now underway, the Giants have a number of important decisions to make on a roster which made a surprising run to the Divisional Round of the playoffs. While the team’s offensive catalysts have understandably drawn plenty of attention on that front, a few key defenders are due for new contracts as well.

One of them is safety Julian Love, who became a full-time starter this season, the final one of his rookie contract. The former fourth-rounder remained an important special-teamer, but also logged a 95% snap share on defense, representing a major jump in playing time compared to previous campaigns. He responded by registering a team-leading 124 tackles, along with two interceptions and five pass breakups.

Those totals no doubt boosted his free agent stock considerably, but Love, 24, is hoping to remain in New York in 2023 and beyond. His comments on the subject of a new deal, however, also reflected his understanding of his importance to the team’s success and his desire to turn his 2022 production into a considerable raise.

“I think I had a huge impact on this team this year, not just with play but with who I am as a person,” Love said, via Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post. “I was the level-headed person this locker room needed at times… This year, having to hold down the fort – it felt like at times – and be the guy for us, I feel like I did a solid job.”

Indeed, Love was a rare constant for a Giants secondary which saw fellow safety Xavier McKinney and top corner Adoree’ Jackson each miss significant time due to injuries. His value will be tempered by the fact that he was only a full-time starter for one season, but he added that contract talks did take place during the bye week which left the two sides “in a better place.” In his season-ending press conference, general manager Joe Schoen indicated (via FOX Sports’ Ralph Vacchiano, on Twitter) his desire to get a deal done.

When going into further detail about his situation, Love reiterated his affinity for the only team he has played for in the NFL to date. He also acknowledged, however, the opportunity free agency will give him to secure a financial windfall.

“I love this place,” the Notre Dame alum said. “The staff has been the best. That’s the stuff you want to come back to, but football is not forever. I put my body on the line every game. When I say, ‘I have to do the best thing for me,’ it’s short-term thinking. You have to do the best to secure generational wealth for your family.”

Giants Table Contract Talks With RB Saquon Barkley

The Giants and running back Saquon Barkley engaged in contract negotiations during their bye week, as Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com report. The two sides “did not come close” to reaching an agreement, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, so talks will be tabled until after the season.

Earlier this month, we learned that New York GM Joe Schoen and Barkley had discussed the possibility of an extension, and we also heard that Schoen did not want negotiations with any of his players to continue beyond the bye week. So, now that the bye is in the rearview mirror — and given that the Giants-Barkley talks apparently did not generate much momentum — Barkley will play out the remainder of the season without a new contract in place.

Per Rapoport and Garafolo, Barkley wants to be paid at or near the top of the RB market, which is presently topped by Christian McCaffrey‘s $16MM/year accord that features $30MM in full guarantees. Barkley’s camp sees McCaffrey as a direct comparable, and they have plenty of support for their position. In 2022, Barkley is averaging nearly 100 rushing yards per game while maintaining an excellent 4.8 YPC rate. He is not being used as much as a receiver as he was during his dynamic rookie season in 2018, but he is still plenty capable in that regard, having caught 28 balls for 189 yards through eight games.

Another arrow in Barkley’s quiver is the fact that the salary cap will be considerably higher than it was when many of his well-compensated peers — McCaffrey, Derrick Henry, and Dalvin Cook, for example — signed their deals. On the other hand, the Giants’ reticence to authorize a record-setting contract is explained by Barkley’s injury history, a crowded free agent class of running backs, and the relative value of the running back position.

Dan Duggan of The Athletic believes a franchise tag for Barkley — which is expected to check in at about $12MM — is inevitable (Twitter link). The problem is that QB Daniel Jones is also eligible for free agency in 2023 since the Giants declined to exercise the fifth-year option of his rookie deal, and Big Blue may want to deploy a franchise or transition tag on him. As a team can only use one tag per season, Schoen could have a difficult decision to make. However, he will be armed with at least $60MM in cap space due to his salary-shedding maneuvers this offseason, so he will have options as he navigates several difficult contractual situations.

Rapoport and Garafolo add that the Giants also talked contract with 2019 fourth-rounder Julian Love during the bye. The versatile DB has seen a significant spike in playing time in his platform campaign, as his 92% defensive snap share is easily the highest mark of his career. He has posted 58 tackles and an interception and is currently ranked as Pro Football Focus’ 34th-best safety out of 84 qualifiers. Like Barkley, Love will still be seeking a new deal when the calendar flips to 2023.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 1/1/22

Here are the New Year’s Day activations from and placements on the reserve/COVID-19 lists:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: G Oli Udoh

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: CB Bryce Hall

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/3/19

We’ll keep track the latest late-round draft pick signings here: