GM Joe Schoen Says the Giants Are Still in on Saquon Barkley – At Their Price

Will the Giants re-sign free agent RB Saquon Barkley? Will they franchise tag him? GM Joe Schoen had answers at the Combine on Tuesday.

The New York Giants franchise-tagged running back Saquon Barkley in 2023 before agreeing to a revised one-year contract that allowed the veteran RB to earn an additional $909,000 through incentives (none of which he reached).

Barkley is again a pending free agent and will hit the open market in mid-March unless New York extends or franchises him.

Speaking at the NFL Combine on Tuesday, Giants general Joe Schoen was fairly blunt on his front office’s assessment of Barkley and whether the former No. 2 overall pick will return in 2024.

Will the Giants Hold on to Saquon Barkley in Free Agency?

If the Giants retain him with a second franchise tag, Barkley will be entitled to a 20% raise over his 2023 salary cap figure. He’d cost New York $12.109 million next season, making him the fifth-highest-paid RB in the NFL.

But that price tag may not deter Schoen and New York as they consider their Barkley options.

“I wouldn’t say the franchise tag is off the table,” Schoen said Tuesday while discussing the Giants’ potential paths with Barkley.

Reports have already suggested that New York is unlikely to tag Barkley. But Schoen indicated that the NFL’s salary cap jump to $255.4 million could influence the club’s decisions, especially given that the Giants expected a cap in the $240 million range.

Barkley, 27, appeared in 14 games in 2023, rushing for 962 yards and scoring six touchdowns on the ground. He lagged in efficiency, finishing fourth-worst in the league in rushing success rate (although Big Blue’s porous offensive line didn’t help). Barkley also missed three games with an ankle injury.

“I wouldn’t say his value has changed, especially in the organization,” Schoen said. “He’s a captain, He’s a leader. He’s a hard worker. I think the world of Saquon, and I still think he can play. My value for Saquon really hasn’t changed.”

Schoen plans to meet with Barkley’s representatives during the Combine and remains hopeful the two sides can work out an agreement. But the Giants are aware they maintain leverage in negotiations.

“It’s a little bit of a saturated (running back) market,” Schoen said, highlighting Barkley’s key offseason obstacle.

While Pro Football Network ranked Barkley as this year’s top free agent running back, it’s a deep class. Josh Jacobs, Derrick Henry, Tony Pollard, Austin Ekeler, and D’Andre Swift are among the backs Barkley will compete with this offseason.

KEEP READING: 2024 NFL Free Agents, Ranked

New York ranks in the middle of the pack with roughly $30 million in cap space. Fellow Giants like safety Xavier McKinney, cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, and backup QB Tyrod Taylor are poised to join Barkley as free agents.

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