Until the Giants know the financial investment they must make to keep these two major cogs in the offensive machinery, all other expenditures are difficult to project. The bottom line is this: Jones will be back, one way or another. Barkley’s status is very much up in the air and depends on how willing he is to not get paid as one of the top players at his position.
The Giants know Jones will be their quarterback in 2023. The goal is to work out a multiyear deal with him. A five-year contract is ideal for the team, because it would allow the Giants to spread the bonus money across the maximum number of years allowed, thus decreasing his salary cap hit in 2023 and beyond. If Jones and the Giants cannot come to an agreement, there is always the franchise tag, which would cost the Giants $32.4 million on their 2023 cap — far more than they want to use — and leave Jones in another prove-it season with no financial security, something he does not want.
Either way, Jones will not hit the open market and he will return to the Giants.
“We want Daniel back,” general manager Joe Schoen said Wednesday at the Senior Bowl. “We haven’t started conversations with his people yet. Once we get into it in terms of years, contract structure, finances, I’m not really sure where they’re gonna be, what they’re asking for, we’re still working on where we’d want to start so until we get into the actual negotiations I really won’t have a good sense for years, money.”
The Barkley negotiations have the potential to be far more uncomfortable for both sides. During the bye week, the Giants offered a contract that averaged $12.5 million on what is believed to be a three-year deal. Barkley’s camp rejected that and the team and the player at this point are not close in where they believe the new deal should fall.
Despite Barkley’s assertion not long after the Giants’ season ended with the playoff loss to the Eagles that “I’m not really too concerned with resetting any markets” where he sees himself in the running back hierarchy will tell the tale. If he is seeking anything close to the $16 million per year Christian McCaffrey is making a deal will not get done. The Giants do not seem inclined to move much higher than their $12.5 million a year offer.
If the Giants do not need to use the franchise tag on Jones, they can apply it to Barkley for $10 million in 2023, but using $10 million in cap space on a running back is not a direction the Giants seem to be headed (a three-year deal for Barkley would be structured to cost far less than $10 million on the 2023 salary cap). If Jones gets a megadeal, he, and not a running back, will be the centerpiece of the offense.
“We had some initial talks earlier this week with his representatives,” Schoen said of Barkley. “When I get back in the office next week we’ll continue to have conversations with them. With any negotiation you just got to move closer and that’s what we’ll try to do next week.”
This is all about roster-building for the Giants, who need loads of help at inside linebacker, wide receiver and depth along the defensive line. They also could use a No. 1 cornerback. Allocating too much money for one running back runs counter to this. Allocating loads of cap space on a quarterback is a more sound strategy, but if the conversation with Jones starts at $40 million a year the Giants can fall back on the franchise tag.
It could come down to this for Jones: Accepting a multiyear deal in the $35 million-a-year range that would allow the Giants to make other moves to further develop an offense in need of an infusion of talent. In other words, convince Jones to take a bit less to enhance his chances for success by surrounding him with improved weapons. The Giants can always sweeten the financial pot for Jones with incentive-based bonuses he would be more likely to achieve with better players around him.
“That will be important but it’s hard to say, if it’s something that we both agree on with the value then we don’t have to approach that,” Schoen said. “If we’re way off then that comes into play. You give somebody all the money that’s less you can divvy up throughout your team or outside the building if you’re bringing free agents in. There’s a chance that comes into play but until we have those negotiations I’m not sure if we’ll need to do that or not.”
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