A year ago, the New York Giants made a bet that Daniel Jones wouldn’t be worth the price of his fifth-year option in 2023, giving them the flexibility to either sign him for less money or move on from him at quarterback. In contrast, they kept Saquon Barkley with a fifth-year option through 2022, but signed him to a long-term contract.
The result leaves both the team’s starting quarterback and leading back on a one-year trial under new head coach Brian Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen.
Now the Bill must be done, and Jones and Barkley shined in a stronger-than-expected season for New York that only ended Saturday night with a 38-7 playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
So while the team has plenty of questions to address this offseason, the roots of the decision tree start with how much and even to pay Jones and Barkley.
“We wish Daniel was here,” Sean told the assembled media Monday in response to the first question. “He said again yesterday. there is also a business side to it. We feel that Daniel played well this season. He has done everything we have asked him to do. Again, there’s the business side of it. We haven’t gone that way yet. We still have our meetings with our staff at the end of the week and we will come up with an offseason plan. We haven’t had those matches yet, but we’d love to get Daniel Jones back.”
The price has certainly gone up. Jones’ fifth-year option in 2023 would have paid New York $22.38 million had the team exercised it last year. Now, Jones will almost certainly demand a franchise tag and a salary in excess of $30 million to keep him in New York while the two sides work out a long-term deal.
As for Barkley, he made $7.2 million this season with a fifth-year option and deserved it. But what that means for his next contract appears to differ significantly between the Giants and Barkley.
After the loss to the Eagles, Barkley said he wasn’t looking for more than the $16 million a year that Christian McCaffrey was getting in his last contract. But he didn’t suggest he’d take less, and there’s plenty of room between that AAV and the $12 million a year New York offered him this fall, the last time the two sides discussed terms.
It is hard to imagine what would change after the bye week. Barkley has already proven that he can be a strong first option out of the backfield and hasn’t gone far since then, nor has he found another level in his game. .
“We had productive conversations,” Schön said. “We were ignoring the cost. Again, we said we’d come back at the end of the season and continue those conversations, but we weren’t really that close at that time of year, I would think.”
The Giants will have north of $50 million to spend in cap space this offseason, a number that will vary depending on everything from the team’s franchise tag on Jones or Barkley to what Leonard Williams has in mind when he offers to take a pay cut. for some longer term security.
But whether the 2023 Giants are like the 2022 Giants in the backfield might just come down to how much another team thinks Saquon Barkley should earn what Christian McCaffrey does. Because if that happens, it’s not likely the Giants will spend what it takes to keep him.