New York Giants willing to entertain calls for RB Saquon Barkley, says GM Joe Schoen

ByJordan Raanan ESPN logo
Wednesday, March 2, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS --Saquon Barkley is not untouchable. The New York Giants are at least willing to entertain phone calls on the talented running back, new general manager Joe Schoen said Tuesday at the NFL scouting combine.

With a new regime in place, a difficult salary-cap situation and an injury-filled three seasons for Barkley, Schoen said he is open to hearing what offers are out there. The Giants are currently estimated at more than $11 million over the cap, according to ESPN's roster management system. They will have to shed excess weight by cutting or trading some quality players.

Among the possibilities appears to be moving Barkley, who is guaranteed $7.217 million on the fifth-year option of his rookie contract for 2022.

"We're still working through that, but I'm open to everything," Schoen said. "Like whether it's trading player for player; I'll listen to anybody. If it's trading a couple players -- I'm not going to say the entire roster, [that] we're open for business on the entire roster. But if anyone is going to call and they're interested in any of our players. I'm certainly going to listen.

"Again, we're in a situation where unfortunately we have to get under the salary cap. We're not in very good salary-cap health. Again, I'm not going to say yes to every deal, but I'm definitely going to listen and be open to the situations that are best for the New York Giants."

Schoen had a much different tone when asked specifically about quarterback Daniel Jones and wide receiver Kadarius Toney, last year's first-round pick out of the University of Florida who struggled to stay on the field because of injuries.

Their imminent futures appear more certain with the Giants, even if the team's brass indicated there hasn't been a decision on Jones' fifth-year option. That is due this spring.

"We're going to bring in competition everywhere, but Daniel Jones is our starting quarterback right now," Schoen said.

This reiterated the comments from Schoen and new coach Brian Daboll during their introductory news conferences, when they indicated the offense would be built around Jones' skill set.

Toney, 23, was the 20th overall selection just last year. He had 39 receptions for 420 yards in 10 games (four starts) as a rookie. They are looking forward to him being a part of the new offense as well.

"I don't think Kadarius is a tradable piece," Schoen said about the young playmaker. "Again, if somebody calls, we're going to listen. He's a good, young player who our coaches really like. We've been in constant contact with him and we're excited to see what he can do."

Regardless, there are going to be some notable moves. Schoen wants to clear some $40 million in cap space in the next few weeks.

Cornerback James Bradberry ($21.8 million cap hit), tight end Kyle Rudolph ($7.4 million) and punter Riley Dixon ($3.12 million) are among the players who could be moved. Wide receiver Sterling Shepard ($12.5 million), who's coming off an Achilles injury, is another contract that could be adjusted or addressed.

"Soon," Schoen said when asked when the cap-cutting would start, indicating it will begin before free agency opens in just over two weeks.

In the meantime, the Giants have lots of contingency plans. There are several ways they can reach Schoen's intended goal.

Barkley could be the biggest name to be a victim of the cap casualties. He had 2,028 total yards as a rookie. He had 2,391 in the three seasons since, in large part because of injuries. It was a right ankle sprain in 2019, a torn ACL the following year and a problem with his left ankle this past season. It has greatly affected his production and value.

But the Giants still think Barkley is a great player ... when healthy. If he stays with the team, he will be a big part of the offense.

"I think if you have good players, you try to get the ball in their hands as much as possible. Whoever that may be -- a running back, tight end, receiver," Daboll said. "Saquon is a good players for us. We'll do our best to try to put him in a good position."

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