Giants’ Joe Schoen Opens The Door For Saquon Barkley Return: ‘He’s a guy we’d like to have back’

New York Giants safety Xavier McKinney (29) celebrates with running back Saquon Barkley (26) after a New England Patriots missed field goal during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants were surprised when the NFL announced the salary cap would stand at $255 million for the 2024 season. That is about $13 million more than the Giants had originally planned for, suggesting they can spend in free agency more aggressively but also consider retaining one of their key contributors, Saquon Barkley.

The Giants were operating under the idea that they would have around $20 million in available free-agency funds, which would likely spell the end of their connection to Barkley. With an extra $10 million available, he may now be a candidate for return.

Giants Have Big Decisions to Make on Barkley and McKinney

Schoen spoke to the media at the NFL Combine on Tuesday morning, suggesting that the Giants have not yet decided if they will use the franchise tag on Barkley or Xavier McKinney. He did note that the running back market this off-season is “saturated,” suggesting that he can find a solid player at a much cheaper price point than Barkley, who does bring plenty of intangible trades to the table.

Aside from accumulating 1,242 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns last season, Barkley remains one of the team’s primary leaders and has helped them fight through adversity. It is evident that Schoen would “like” to have him back, but the financials don’t suggest it is a great investment, especially since he turned 27 years old and is quickly headed toward the back end of a running back’s prime.

READ MORE: Giants could trade up for a quarterback ‘if the situation presents itself,’ says NFL Insider

Evaluating Contract Options and Team Priorities

With that being said, a three-year contract with an out after the second season may be something the Giants are willing to consider, but it would have to be at the right price point. The team can either draft a player in the mid-rounds, keeping costs exceptionally low, or attack the free agent market and look for a decent player like Zack Moss or Devin Singletary on a short-term deal at a minimal investment — both former Buffalo players.

It is safe to say the Giants do have options, but their priority will be Xavier McKinney, who is only 25 years old and played every defensive snap last season. McKinney is another key leader in the locker room, and the Giants can’t afford to lose two in one off-season.

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