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Giants Run it Back With Jones and Barkley

Heading into the 2022-2023 season, there were a lot of question marks for the New York Giants. It was the first year of the new tenure of general manager (GM) Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll, who both made the trip down from Buffalo to East Rutherford, home of the New York Giants.

It was also the fifth and last year of the contract of Saquon Barkley, the star running back they controversially selected with the second overall pick of the 2018 NFL draft.

In his first two seasons with the Giants, Barkley played in 29 of 32 games, running for 2,310 yards that led to 17 rushing touchdowns, and 1,159 receiving yards that led to 8 receiving touchdowns. He was named Offensive Rookie of the Year and was nominated as a Pro Bowler in 2018. Unfortunately, injuries sidelined Barkley for 3 games in the 2019-2020 season and 14 more the next season. Even with the injuries, the Giants, then under the leadership of Dave Gettleman and Joe Judge, decided to pick up Barkley's fifth-year option.

Every rookie NFL contract is 4 years. However, first round draft picks also have a fifth-year option included in their contracts. After the player's third season, the team that drafted the player can choose to pick up the contract, making it a five year contract as opposed to a four year contract.

Barkley's struggles continued to persist into the 2021-2022 season. His injury history forced more missed time in which he missed three games and only rushed for 593 yards with 2 touchdowns in 14 games. This is a considerable dropoff for a running back who ran over 1,000 yards in both of his first 2 seasons. For Barkley, that meant his fifth and final year would have to be a prove-it year, not only to the New York Giants but for the football world who still doubts his selection.

Then there was Daniel Jones, another controversial selection of the Dave Gettleman era, who was selected 6th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft and named the heir to 2-time Super Bowl MVP, Eli Manning. However, Eli did play two more games when Daniel Jones suffered a high ankle sprain missing 2 games.

Jones had a decent Rookie year, passing 3,027 yards with 24 touchdowns, and ending with 12 interceptions. But his next two seasons saw a considerable dropoff.

In the 2020-2021 season, the Giants first time without Eli Manning, Jones missed two games due to injury, ending the season only passing a total of 2,943 yards with 11 touchdowns, and having 10 interceptions. In the 2021-2022 season, Jones missed six games due to injury, passing for 2,428 with 10 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. Throughout the three seasons in which both Jones and Barkley were on the roster, the Giants had a record of 14-35, which is the 4th worst record in the NFL in that time frame. Twenty-eight teams had better records than the New York Giants between 2019-2021 seasons.

After his first 3 seasons being underwhelming for a Top 10 NFL Draft pick, the New York Giants now under the control of Schoen and Daboll, decided to decline Jones’ fifth-year option. Daniel Jones would have to make the 2022-2023 season worth it.

It is safe to say that both players delivered.

In the 2022-2023 season, Saquon Barkley ran for the most yards he has ever run for in his short career, running for 1,312 yards and with 10 touchdowns. He was named a Pro Bowler for the second time. Barkley played in 16 of 17 games, missing none due to injury.

Jones also had a career year, passing for 3,206 yards with 15 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, and rushing for 708 yards and 7 touchdowns.

The Giants had a record of 9-7-1 and made the playoffs for the first time since the 2016-2017 season. And on January 15, 2023, they won their first playoff game since Super Bowl 46 in 2012.

They eventually lost the following week to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Brian Daboll was named NFL Coach of the Year based on how he was able to turn around, not only Daniel Jones, but the entire Giants team.

Heading into his second year as an NFL general manager, Schoen had two huge decisions to make. And boy, was he right in making them.

After lengthy contract negotiations with both Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones, who had an agency change at the last hour, the Giants were able to reach a decision with Jones at the last second, which allowed them to use the franchise tag on Barkley.

In the NFL, each team has one franchise tag they can use per year. These tags can only be used on players who are set to become unrestricted free agents, meaning they would be able to negotiate contracts with all of the other teams in the league. The franchise tag allows a team to keep a player under contract on a one year season.

The deal was announced 3 minutes before the franchise tag deadline.

Because of this deal, Daniel Jones signed a four-year, 160-million-dollar contract with 82 million dollars guaranteed at signing. Jones also received a 36 million dollar signing bonus.

Saquon Barkley will play on a franchise tag worth roughly $10 million while he and the Giants continue negotiating a long-term contract.

This was the right move for the Giants. Saquon Barkley is their star franchise player, and they could not afford to allow him to walk in free agency. Placing the tag on Barkley will enable him to remain a Giant while continuing to work out a deal that works best for both sides.

While many fans might think that the Giants overpaid for a mediocre quarterback, the New York Giants are making an investment, believing that Jones has yet to hit his ceiling and, under competent leadership, can continue to expand on his 2022-2023 season. Jones is considered one of the best-running quarterbacks in the league and, after improving under Brian Daboll, the Giants have faith their coach can continue to strengthen Jones as he did with Josh Allen as his Offensive Coordinator in Buffalo.

Plus, with an exploding quarterback market, Deshaun Watson has a $230 million guaranteed deal, Kyler Murray a $189.5 million guaranteed, Russel Willson a $161.1 million guaranteed, Aaron Rodgers a $150.8 million guaranteed, so Jones' $82 million dwarfs in comparison. And when other quarterbacks like Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence get the chance to negotiate their next contracts, the Jones contract will only continue to look better.

Now all there is to do is wait and see how Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley get better with some help. Perhaps, a reunion with one of the Giants' best all-time wide receivers, Odell Beckham Jr, who considered the Giants while he was rehabbing his ACL injury, wouldn’t be a huge surprise, and fans can finally see number 13 back to Metlife Stadium.

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