Talks over Daniel Jones’ contract with the Giants have resulted in the past three weeks being completed with nine consecutive days of meetings to close out. But it all came down to the final minutes before ET’s 4 p.m. Tuesday franchise deadline.
General Manager Joe Schoen told reporters on a conference call Wednesday that they tried to come up with a Tuesday noon deadline so they wouldn’t be scrambled. It did not come true. An employee raised concerns that the Wi-Fi might be a clock dwindling problem, and the Giants had several emails ready to send depending on the outcome.
But even when they pushed themselves, it kept going down until the last few minutes.
“It got a little dicey (Tuesday),” said Schoen. “When it got to 3:30, 3:40, there was a part of me thinking, ‘We may not make it to the finish line. But in the last four or five minutes, we tied a bracket on it, fortunately.”
Jones was at the Giants facility when one of his agents approached him around 3:53 or 3:54 p.m. He agreed, and the Giants were able to complete a four-year, $160 million contract without franchising the quarterback. This allowed the Giants to instead place the non-exclusive franchise tag on running Saquon Barkley. Jones signed his contract on Tuesday night and then went out to dinner with friends and his clients to celebrate.
“I picked up the tab,” Jones said with a laugh.
Schoen mentioned last week at a scouting meeting that he said to the quarterback when it comes to negotiating, things can get worse before they get better.
“I think there were probably some points where you had more confidence and some points where you had less confidence at times,” Jones said. “But I wanted to find a way to work it out, and that was the point. It was very much my mentality, and I’m glad we did it. I’m glad to be back.”
Schoen described the signing as a huge relief for everyone.
“It’s been stressful enough over the three weeks as we go through this process,” Schoen said. “But then with time being tight at the end, pressure added on his head all the way to the deadline. I think there was a sense of relief on all sides after that… (I) gave some big hugs.”
One of the offseason’s biggest priorities has been getting Jones on a long-term deal to not only secure the quarterback but also free up cover space for his perimeter as the Giants continue to rebuild. Jones’ situation was also tied to Barkley’s future: if Jones had to carry the franchise tag, that meant Barkley’s future was a bit murkier. Jones said that when it came to negotiations, he tried to find a balance.
“In a situation like this, you’re trying to do what’s best for you and your family while also balancing being part of a team and understanding the goals and vision we have as a team and as an organization,” Jones said. “That was definitely important to me throughout the deal. And I think we found a way to do both of those things and do it the right way for both sides. That was definitely important to me. I’ll be – you said it, it means a lot to me as a teammate, as a friend. He means a lot to us as a player. So, I’m not going to talk about his work. But that was also part of it.”
Now, they are both part of the Giants’ future. Extension talks with Barkley’s representatives date back to the bye week, but the two sides were reportedly not close to reaching an agreement at that point. The Giants’ offer at the time was believed to be in the range of $12 million a year, per the athleteDan Duggan. The franchise tag for a year to run back in 2023 is $10.1 million. Schoen said he spoke with Barkley on Tuesday before they put the card on him and they will talk again Wednesday. They will continue their negotiations.
“Right now, he’s under the franchise tag,” Schoen said. “As we build the team and continue with our off-season plan, we’ll do what’s best for the team. We’re still mapping that out.”
Barkley said at the end of the season that no one would really like to have the franchise tag, and instead wanted the stability of a long-term deal. Although Schoen hasn’t spoken in depth with Barkley yet, he said both parties knew this was an option if they couldn’t come to an agreement before the deadline.
“If he’s frustrated, I can understand some of that,” Schoen said. “We can also get frustrated because we couldn’t close a deal. I like Sakon. He’s a good player. He’ll be part of this team in the future. We’ll see where it goes from here.”
With the quarterback position settled and Barkley receiving the tag, Schoen can shift primary focus to filling out the rest of the roster. The Giants would have plenty of room without having to use the expensive tag on Jones which would have been $32.4 million. They will continue contract extension talks and talks with free agents like safety Julian Love before free agency begins next week. Plus, they’ve earned at least nine draft picks with the chance to add more through the compensatory selection system.
“I don’t want to say this is starting to build, because we made some moves last year and through the draft and some waiver claims that are still here,” Schoen said. “But this is where we finally have the flexibility and formulation of capital, (we have) the second act. And we can really start building this thing knowing we have Daniel in place.”
(Top photo: Mitchell Leaf/Getty Images)
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