The clock was ticking Tuesday for the Giants and quarterback Daniel Jones to reach an agreement on a long-term deal, as the NFL’s franchise tag deadline was 4 p.m.
According to several sources, the two parties reached a $160 million deal, including $35 million in incentives spread over four years.
Instead, the Giants used the franchise tag on running back Saquon Barkley, who will now earn $10.1 million next season before becoming a free agent in 2024.
The Giants and Barkley have until July 17 to reach an agreement on a long-term deal, but the two parties have not reached an agreement. The Giants have allegedly offered a contract in the $12.5 million area yearly, while Barkley’s team was apparently demanding upwards of $16 million.
If the Giants were unable to reach a deal with Jones by the deadline on Tuesday, they would have likely tagged Jones instead, allowing Barkley to test the free-agent market.
Simply said, Jones was a bigger priority at a higher level.
With few weapons around him, the soon-to-be fifth-year quarterback shined this season, winning 10 games, including a road playoff game at Minnesota in which Jones became the first player in postseason history to pass for at least 300 yards, throw for at least two touchdowns, and rush for at least 70 yards.
Jones also did not miss a game due to injury and has the NFL’s lowest interception rate. He clearly impressed the Giants, as the club rejected his fifth-year option, which would have paid just $22.4 million in 2023, last spring.
Nevertheless, no quarterback has ever signed an extension with a club that rejected his fifth-year option, so there will undoubtedly be doubts about Jones’ ability to progress under head coach Brian Daboll’s scheme.
Jones’ franchise tag would have cost the Giants $32.4 million next season, but $160 million spread over four years provides the team greater salary cap flexibility. Jones, 25, would have become the youngest quarterback in team history.
At the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, the Giants bargained with Jones’ camp for a week. Jones’ representatives then headed to New Jersey on Monday to resume negotiations ahead of the deadline on Tuesday.
There was some scepticism that a contract would be completed since discussions were stalled when Jones moved agency from CAA to Athletes First, and there were claims that Jones was wanting more than $45 million per year at the outset.
Jones is one of the NFL’s nine highest-paid quarterbacks, along with Dak Prescott of the Cowboys and Matthew Stafford of the Rams.
Conversely, Barkley had a career-high 1,312 running yards this season and did not miss a game due to injury. Nevertheless, since the former No. 2 overall selection missed 21 games in the previous three seasons and plays a more disposable position, the Giants are unwilling to pay him as much as or nearly as much as the highest-paid running back in the league.
Barkley is entering his 26th season and might face another prove-it year.
NFL free agency begins next Wednesday at 4 p.m. Eastern Time, and general manager Joe Schoen has a lot of work ahead of him.
The Giants will most likely prioritise wide receiver, offensive line, linebacker, and defensive back in free agency and the NFL Draft in April.