A breakdown of Daniel Jones & Saquon Barkley’s pending free agency and most likely scenarios
It is no secret that much of the Giant's 2022 success was built off the backs of Daniel Jones and Saquon
Barkley. The pair were easily two of the top three most talented players on offense, only behind star Tackle Andrew Thomas. However, with Saquon and Danny Dimes both set to hit Free Agency, where do the New York Giants go from here? While last season’s success was a welcomed one, Giant fans need to keep in mind that much of 2022 was a direct result of the phenomenal leadership from Coach of the Year, Brian Daboll. The Giant’s first season under this new regime was a crucial step towards greatness, but the organization must be weary of overpaying and misallocating resources. Make no mistake this is still only Year 2 in a multi-year rebuild.
So, what are the most likely outcomes for the Giants and their two offensive stars? Below are the three most likely scenarios that could shape up over the next few weeks.
Scenario 1: Jones signs a multi-year deal, leaving Saquon with the Franchise Tag
Let me start out by saying this…Daniel Jones is not going anywhere. 25-year-old Quarterbacks with top-ten potential do not grow on trees. And make no mistake, Jones does have the upside. He already showed this past year the ability to improve on his flaws (turnovers and pocket mobility). Additionally, he did so with zero weapons at pass catcher, leaving a lot of room for growth still in this offense. Additionally, because of positional value, the Giants are clearly focused on Jones over Barkley. In fact, if I was the Giants' GM, I would have no issue taking a Le’veon Bell-like approach with Saquon and using the Franchise Tag for the next two years. And while Saquon wouldn’t be happy considering this offers no long-term stability, it would give the Giants the ability to use his most valuable years before he starts to slow down athletically. Additionally, nobody can feel that bad about Saquon making $10M+ annually, far more than he is currently making.
Scenario 2: Jones gets slapped with the Franchise Tag, Saquon Walks
Additionally, anyone who thinks the Giants will pay Jones $45M annually is delusional. Why would they do that when they can slap the Franchise Tag on him for $34M and see how he performs in 2023? However, this scenario would leave the Giants vulnerable to Saquon going to the highest bidder in Free Agency. And at that, in today’s analytical world, this may not be the worst thing for the Giants from a roster-building standpoint. The Giants have no shortage of needs, especially at much more crucial and durable positions, like Cornerback, Wide-Receiver, and O-line. So if the Giants were to let Saquon walk, they would be a fool to then, turn around and use that money on another aging running back who is looking for a big contract. In this scenario, the Giants must draft a running back, in a draft class that is said to litter with talent at the position.
Scenario 3: Saquon tests Free Agency, but decides New York is home
This last scenario is one I believe people aren’t talking about enough. Let's say the Giants lock up Daniel
Jones, either through the tag or a long-term deal. Then let’s say Saquon hits free agency. What if he doesn’t love what he finds? What if he then decides that an extra $1M a year isn’t worth it? I don’t believe this is farfetched. After all, this year’s RB free agency class is loaded with stars, and we already mentioned the Draft has a ton of young talent. What if nobody wants to give Saquon the $14M he reportedly is seeking? And even if they are it is very possible the Penn State product turns down an offer from say, the Bears and prefers to stay in New York for around $12.5M- a number Giants GM Joe Schoen would much more be comfortable with. After all, Jones and Saquon were with the Giants during the dreaded Gettleman years. They did all the right things and are finally on a competent team. Additionally, Saquon’s notoriety goes far beyond what he does on the football field. He is the face of the franchise and has much more branding opportunities in New York than in any other potential market.
So what’s next? This week is the NFL combine which is the preverbal ‘lunch table’ of the NFL. Reporters talk to Insiders and rumors start like wildfire. After that, Free Agency starts on March 15th. Look for the Giants to negotiate over the next two weeks and they likely won’t use the franchise tag on either player until the very last minute. From there it’s open season.
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