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FutureStarrGiants Strike Deal With Daniel Jones and Use Tag on Saquon Barkley
The Giants recently beat the franchise tag deadline to secure quarterback Daniel Jones to a long-term deal. Additionally, they placed the nonexclusive tag on running back Saquon Barkley, keeping both players in New York for now and into the foreseeable future.
Last season, Jones enjoyed an exceptional campaign, throwing for 3,205 yards and 15 touchdowns while running for 708 more. Additionally, he led the Giants to a thrilling road playoff victory against Minnesota.
Since his rookie year in the league, Jones has been considered the quarterback of the future by New York, and they recently rewarded him with an extension just hours before the franchise tag deadline on Tuesday. With a four-year deal worth $82 million guaranteed, the Giants are officially secure in their future and guarantee Jones his starting job for several seasons to come.
In his first season under head coach Brian Daboll, Jones improved his completion percentage and yards per attempt while throwing 15 touchdown passes and five interceptions in 16 games. Additionally, he added 708 rushing yards with seven more scores to lead the Giants to a 9-7-1 regular-season record and wild-card win against Minnesota Vikings in 2022.
After the 2022 season, Schoen and Daboll declined to exercise Jones' fifth-year option on his rookie contract, making last year's campaign a must-win for the 23-year-old signal-caller. This decision proved critical as it freed up resources for other aspects of their offense while giving the Giants financial flexibility in future years.
With a new coaching staff, Jones was given the chance to prove himself as one of the game's elite quarterbacks. He quickly cemented his place as an inspirational leader both inside and outside the locker room, leading the Giants to their first playoff win in nearly a decade.
The Giants are delighted with Jones' performance during the 2022 season and look forward to what he can accomplish moving forward with Daboll and an improved arsenal. Jones has the potential to lead this team to the Super Bowl and beyond, but in order to prepare him adequately for such a monumental task, the Giants must make some key moves during free agency and during the draft.
Jones has an extended contract that keeps him with the Giants until 2024, giving them financial flexibility to add other key players without impacting their budget too much. With cap expectations set to increase significantly over time, this deal provides Jones with a secure future without worrying about breaking his commitment.
Jones' annual salary now ties him with NFC rivals Dak Prescott and Matthew Stafford as the seventh highest paid player in the NFL, earning more than three times what he earned during his four seasons as a starting quarterback for the Giants. That salary amount represents his combined annual earnings from 21-31-1 record during that span.
Though not the highest-paid quarterback in the league, Jones is unquestionably the best at his position and will be a formidable force on the field for the Giants in the future. A proven leader both inside the locker room and on the field, Jones is confident that he can help them win more championships in the near future.
On Tuesday night, the New York Giants found a long-term solution to their star running back's future. To address their main worry, they signed an agreement with quarterback Daniel Jones and used a nonexclusive tag on Barkley to effectively lock up both of their top offensive players for 2023.
With the Jones agreement, the Giants have freed up around $37 million in salary cap space. Now they are in a position to sign one or more other in-house contracts and still have time to reach an agreement with Barkley before his contract expires on July 17th.
The Giants hold the nonexclusive tag on Barkley, giving them the flexibility to negotiate with other teams and match any offer sheet that comes in. Conversely, if no deal is struck between them and Barkley before July 15th, then they could simply let him walk and receive two first-round draft picks as compensation. While this scenario is highly unlikely, it could occur if both parties fail to come to a long-term agreement before then.
Last season, Barkley (26), had his best season in years; rushing for a career-high 1,312 yards and scoring 10 touchdowns while adding 338 receiving yards as the Giants' starting running back in Brian Daboll's offense. Additionally, Barkley played an integral role in their unexpected playoff run.
But the NFL's transition to an advanced metric system that puts more focus on total offense hasn't been kind to running backs, leading many teams to let their top runners go in free agency.
The Giants had several options to address the situation, but ultimately chose to use their franchise tag on Barkley in hopes he would sign a long-term contract before becoming an unrestricted free agent. Retaining Barkley proved wise for the team which still has plenty of money in its cap for roster improvements with other players on in-house contracts expiring this year or next.
By signing this deal, Barkley's tag rate will increase to $10.1 million - the standard rate for running backs on nonexclusive tags. That amount will be added to the Giants' cap when they begin play one week from Wednesday.
He has the option of playing on the tag and signing a long-term deal with the Giants, though that seems unlikely. Instead, he may elect to forgo mandatory minicamp in June in order to work out an agreement with the team that lasts beyond summer.
The Giants face an uphill battle when it comes to negotiations a long-term contract with Barkley, as the league has made it clear that running backs are no longer valuable assets. Nevertheless, Barkley is an impressive talent who has earned respect in the locker room and developed strong ties with teammates. If he continues playing as well as he did this year, there's no reason why the Giants can't keep him for at least another year.
The Giants' agreement with Jones provides them with more cap space this offseason than they'd have had if they used the franchise tag on Barkley, who would otherwise become an unrestricted free agent. That extra $10 million in cap room allows general manager Joe Schoen to pursue other players.
This spring, the team is projected to have around $54 million in cap space - ranking third among other NFL teams after the Bears and Falcons. That should be more than enough money for any deals made at the trade deadline or extending current players like Barkley or Jones until their restricted free agents status next year.
Giants must decide how they will handle Jones' cap hit, which is expected to reach $30 million annually. Jones wants a deal that puts him among the league's top 10 highest-paid quarterbacks - joining Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray, Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes in that group.
According to Over The Cap, Jones' base salary over four years would put him in a three-way tie with Dak Prescott and Matthew Stafford at $40 million annually. That figure surpasses Derek Carr's new Saints contract (33 million) or Geno Smith's Seahawks deal ($25 million).
Schoen is expected to try and defer some of Jones' salary over the course of the four-year extension, though that will be a risky strategy given the cap increase in 2023. However, he can still use the cap to minimize his Year 1 cap charge, which is projected to be significantly lower than Jones' average annual salary.
Schoen and the Giants stand to gain from this deal with two first-round draft picks if they fail to match any other team's offer, giving them an additional $21 million in cap space for next season.
Schoen has had a fortunate start to his tenure, having spent the first offseason of his tenure cleaning up salary cap missteps from Dave Gettleman. But he also faces many decisions as the Giants strive to build an elite franchise.
One of the first steps that needs to be taken is freeing some players up. Kenny Golladay will likely be released, giving the Giants approximately $27.3 million in cap savings.
Other potential casualties could include left tackle Andrew Thomas, safety Xavier McKinney and wide receiver Darius Slayton. With all three eligible for a second contract this offseason, the Giants have some options at those positions.
With Jones and Barkley deals completed, they can turn their attention towards other areas of the roster, such as adding a high-end wide receiver, strengthening offensive line depth and potentially making an impact at receiver. That would be a great start in creating a brighter long-term future than what they currently enjoy.