Giants to reopen talks with Saquon Barkley this week, prefer not to use franchise tag

The Giants are in a good spot this offseason when it comes to their franchise tag and who they can choose to use it on.

New York could use it on running back Saquon Barkley, the face of the franchise pretty much since they drafted him in the first round back in 2018, for the second straight year. Or they could use it on another player, like young safety Xavier McKinney.

Giants GM Joe Schoen spoke to the media on the first day of the 2024 NFL Combine in Indianapolis on Tuesday and discussed both free agents, noting that talks with both camps will happen this week.

“The plan all along was to meet here in Indy and have those discussions about how we’re going to move forward with [Barkley],” Schoen said. “He’s a guy we’d like to have back. Those conversations will take place this week and we’ll see if we can get something done.

“Xavier is in the same boat. We’ve had really good talks with Xavier the last couple of weeks. Talks have not begun with that … Xavier is another player that we'd like to have back. He’s 24 years old, he was a captain, played 100 percent of the snaps. We think a lot of X and look forward to getting into the negotiation period here later this week.”

The Giants used the franchise tag on Barkley last season and later negotiated a one-year deal, which allowed the team to work out a new contract with quarterback Daniel Jones. Now that the team has its quarterback -- for now -- locked up, Schoen is keen on getting a deal done with his running back.

But after Barkley declined two of the team’s contract offers -- one dating back to 2022 -- the two sides haven’t had negotiations since, but that changes now. Schoen said that both camps are different, including Barkley hiring new representatives, but the GMs value of his running back as a player isn't.

"I think of the world of Saquon, and I still think he can play,” Schoen said. “My value for Saquon really hasn't changed."

The franchise tag for Barkley will be around $12 million this season, which Schoen pointed out isn’t that much. But the new salary cap increase, which the Giants were “pleasantly surprised” by, does change how they approach their offseason -- including what they do with the franchise tag.

“I won’t say the franchise tag is off the table [for Barkley],” Schoen explained. “The new [salary cap] number, if we were going to franchise someone for the first time at the position I think is $11.9 [million] and his number isn’t that much more than that. The salary cap changes your philosophy and how you attack things.

“In a perfect world, we don’t want to do that again. We’re going to have conversations, we’re going to talk through it and he says he wants a fair deal and I appreciate that. Ultimately, we have to do what’s best for the franchise short-term and long-term. But I’m looking forward to meeting with his representatives.”

The franchise tag deadline for this season is March 5, so there is some time to get a deal done. But the running back market is very saturated this offseason, so the Giants seem to be in a good spot whether Barkley returns or not.