How the Giants’ contract negotiations with Daniel Jones went down to the wire
Talk of Daniel Jones’ contract with the Giants has dictated the last three weeks, complete with nine straight days of meetings to close it out. But it all came down to the final minutes before Tuesday’s franchise tag deadline at 4pm ET.
General manager Joe Schoen told reporters on a conference call Wednesday that they tried to find a Tuesday afternoon time frame so they wouldn’t have to fight. This was not completed. One staffer even raised concerns that Wi-Fi could be an issue with a clock down, and the Giants had prepared several emails to send out depending on the outcome.
But even though they put pressure on themselves, it was reduced again in the last minutes.
“It got a little gloomy (Tuesday),” Schoen said. “As 3:30, 3:40 came around, part of me was thinking, ‘We might not make it to the finish line.’ But in the last four or five minutes, luckily, we put a bow on it.”
Jones was at the Giants facility when one of his agents approached him around 3:53 or 3:54 p.m. with the deal. He agreed, and the Giants were able to complete a four-year, $160 million contract without franchise tagging the quarterback. This allowed the Giants to place the non-exclusive franchise tag on Saquon Barkley instead. Jones signed his contract Tuesday night and then went out to dinner with his friends and agents to celebrate.
“I picked up the tab,” Jones said with a laugh.
Schoen mentioned last week at the scouting combine that he told the quarterback when it comes to negotiations, things can get worse before they get better.
“I think there were probably some points where you had more confidence and some points in time where you had less confidence,” Jones said. “But I wanted to find a way to solve it and that was the goal. It was very much my mindset, and I’m glad we did it. I’m excited to be back.”
Schoen called the signing a huge relief for everyone.
“It’s been pretty stressful for three weeks while we’re going through the process,” Schoen said. “But then with the time crunch at the end, it added to the stress on him until the deadline. I think there was a sense of relief afterwards on all sides… (I) gave some big hugs.”
One of the biggest offseason priorities was getting Jones to a long-term deal to not only secure a quarterback, but also free up cap space to surround him as the Giants continue their rebuild. Jones’ situation had also been tied to Barkley’s future: if Jones had to be exclusively tagged, that would mean Barkley’s future was a bit murkier. Jones said that when it came to negotiations, he tried to find a balance.
“In a situation like this, you’re trying to do what’s best for you and your family, balancing being part of a team and understanding the goals and vision that we have as a team and as an organization,” Jones said. “That was certainly important to me throughout the deal. And I think we’ve found a way to do both of those things and do it in a way that’s right for both sides. That was certainly important to me. Saquon – I’ve said it, he means a ton to me as a teammate, as a friend. And he means a ton to us as a player. So I won’t talk about his business. But that was also part of it.”
Now, both are part of the Giants’ future. Extension talks with Barkley’s representatives date back to last week, but the two sides reportedly weren’t close to an agreement at that point. The Giants’ offer at the time was believed to be in the $12 million per year range, according to The Athletic’s Dan Duggan. The one-year franchise tag cost for running back in 2023 is $10.1 million. Schoen said he spoke with Barkley on Tuesday before he was tagged and they would speak again on Wednesday. They will continue their negotiations.
“Right now, he’s under the franchise tag,” Schoen said. “As we build the team and continue with our offseason plan, we will do what is best for the team. We are still designing it.”
Barkley had said late in the season that no one would really want to be franchise-tagged, instead wanting the stability of a long-term deal. Although Schoen had not yet spoken in depth with Barkley, he said both sides knew that was an option if they couldn’t reach a deal before the deadline.
“If he’s frustrated, I can understand some of that,” Schoen said. “We may also be frustrated that we were unable to reach an agreement. I love Saquon. He is a good player. He will be part of this team going forward. We’ll see where it goes from here.”
With the quarterback situation resolved and Barkley getting the tag, Schoen can shift his primary focus to filling out the rest of the roster. The Giants will have plenty of cap space without having to use the price tag on Jones, which would have been a $32.4 million cap hit. They will continue contract extension talks and talks with free agents like safety Julian Love before the start of free agency next week. Plus, they have at least nine picks with the chance to add more via the compensatory pick system.
“I don’t want to say this starts the build because we made some moves last year and through the draft and some waiver claims that will still be here,” Schoen said. “But here we finally have flexibility and draft capital, the second draft class. And we can really start building this thing knowing that we have Daniel in place.”
(Feature photo: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)