PHOENIX — There is no offer on the table from the Giants to Saquon Barkley.
The team three weeks ago placed the franchise tag on its top running back and that is the way things stand, for now and, perhaps, for the entire season.
The message from the Giants is clear: We want you back on a long-term deal but only if the price is our price.
“Once we put the franchise tag on him, we stepped back,” general manager Joe Schoen said Monday at the NFL owners’ meeting. “We knew that throughout the negotiation there was going to be a time where if we can’t come to an agreement we’re going to go to the franchise tag and that’s what we did.”
That is what the Giants did and there is certainly a good chance that is where it remains, with Barkley playing on the one-year tag for $10.1 million.
Saquon Barkley speaking to the media at the Giants training facility in East Rutherford, New Jersey.Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post
New York Giants GM Joe Schoen speaks to the media at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.Corey Sipkin for the NY POST
Schoen said he is in “constant contact” with Barkley’s representation, but the offer the Giants made at the bye week — a three-year deal worth $12.5 million annually — is no longer viable.
The offer the Giants made after the season, believed to be slightly higher, is also no longer on the table.
“Essentially when you’re building a team, there’s 53 players, you can’t look at everybody in a silo,” Schoen said. “As you’re going through negotiations, if you can’t come to an agreement on what the value of the player is then you have to shift to Plan B. We knew we had the franchise tag as a tool. We’ll see if anything happens down the road.”
Co-owner John Mara said he spoke with Barkley about 10 days ago and reiterated his wishes that Barkley never play for another NFL team.
“I told him how much I wanted him here, that my dream was he play his whole career as a Giant, like Eli [Manning] did, like [Michael] Strahan did, like Tiki [Barber] did. I mentioned to him, ‘Look what they’re doing off the field now.’ I think he would like that as well.”
New York Giants Co-Owner John Mara is all smiles while the field during pre-game warm ups against the Philadelphia Eagles.Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post
That was a clear message from Mara to the player taken with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Stay with the Giants, in the New York/New Jersey area, enjoy success on the field and reap the rewards in your post-playing career.
Barkley, 26, was able to remain healthy in 2022 for the first time since his rookie year.
He set a career high in rushing yards (1,312) and ran for 10 touchdowns.
The Giants are willing to pay him as a top-10 running back, even as the market at that position has been devalued during this free-agency cycle.
Barkley after the season said he was not interested in breaking the bank in the running back hierarchy, but the two sides are not believed to be close on an agreement to secure Barkley beyond the 2023 season.
Mara said his message to Barkley was this: “We very much want you back, want you to be one of the leaders of this team, want you to be one of the faces of this franchise. But there’s a limit to how far we can go. We have to build a team around you and we’ve gone just about as far as we can.”
Mara said there is no thought to trade Barkley.
Saquon Barkley runs the ball as Camryn Bynum of the Minnesota Vikings defends.Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post
Schoen has repeatedly said how much he wants Barkley around for several years and that “Saquon knows how I think about him.”
Schoen also made clear getting quarterback Daniel Jones back on a long-term deal was the priority this offseason and accomplished that with Jones’ four-year deal worth $160 million.
Barkley is not happy about getting tagged — “I don’t think he was thrilled,’’ Mara said — and could opt to do what many players do when on the franchise tag: Sit out the offseason program, which for the Giants begins April 17.
If Barkley does not sign the tag, he is under no obligation to show up.
“Obviously you’d rather have him in the building so, yeah, it would be a concern,” Mara said.
Schoen said he will not speak to how Barkley might feel about all this.
When asked about team chemistry and any leadership void if Barkley is not participating in workouts, Schoen quickly pivoted, mentioning players who are signed, naming Jones, backup running back Matt Breida and a wide receivers room “comprised of a bunch of good guys” on the offensive side of the ball.
Barkley and the Giants have until July 17 to come to an agreement on a long-term deal or else he plays on the one-year tag. At this moment, there is no offer out there for Barkley to accept.