Giants still hopeful of long-term deal with Saquon Barkley

PHOENIX -- Three weeks after they designated him as their franchise player, the New York Giants have continued negotiating with running back Saquon Barkley on a potential long-term contract.

Barkley is scheduled to play the 2023 season on a one-year franchise tag of $10.091 million. But under the rules of the collective bargaining agreement, the Giants have until July 17 to sign Barkley to a long-term deal before the start of the season.

Giants team owner John Mara made it clear Monday that he hopes to do just that.

"I told Saquon we want him to be a Giant for his entire career," Mara said during a break here at the NFL annual league meeting. "He provides leadership, he's a great player and we'd like to be able to get something done with him at some point. The running back market is what it is right now, but I'm still hopeful at some point we will come to an agreement."

Mara's reference is to a soft running back market with more supply than demand, which has depressed prices around the league for players at that position. There are seven running backs in the NFL whose average annual salaries are higher than the $10.091 million franchise tag, but the fact that the Las Vegas Raiders' Josh Jacobs and the Dallas Cowboys' Tony Pollard also got the franchise tag instead of a long-term deal says a lot about the market for their position.

"Where we are with him on the franchise tag, we're fine with that," Giants general manager Joe Schoen said. "I mean, where does that rank him among the running backs in the league?"

Schoen said he's in "constant contact" with Barkley's agent but that any offer that was on the table prior to the Giants tagging him no longer is, as the team has pivoted to other business.

"There's no outstanding offer right now," Schoen said. "Once we put the franchise tag on him, we stepped back. We knew throughout the negotiation that there was going to be a time where, if we couldn't come to an agreement, we were going to go to the franchise tag, and that's what we did."

Still, the organization's hope is that Barkley doesn't have to decide whether he's willing to attend camp on the franchise tag because they can get a deal done with him prior to that. Mara said his last conversation with Barkley was about 10 days ago.

"We had a very good conversation," Mara said. "I told him how much I wanted him to be a Giant and to play his whole career as a Giant like Eli [Manning] did, like [Michael] Strahan did, like Tiki [Barber] did, and look at what they're doing off the field now. And I think he would like that as well."

Mara also was asked about the possibility of signing free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who was the Giants' first-round draft pick in 2014 and played the first five years of his career for them before being traded to the Cleveland Browns. Mara said he would be in favor of a reunion.

"We certainly haven't closed that door," Mara said. "That's going to be up to Joe and [head coach Brian Daboll]. I certainly would be in favor of that it they can make it happen."

Added Schoen: "We'll continue -- not just Odell, but players that are available across all positions -- we'll continue to look at. You can get creative with the cap if you need to in certain situations. If there's a player out there that we think will help us, we'll always look into those."