How the Giants’ contract negotiations with Daniel Jones stalled

Talks about Daniel Jones’ contract with the Giants 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 4:00 PM ET franchise tag deadline.

General manager Joe Schoen told reporters on a conference call Wednesday that they were trying to come up with a Tuesday noon deadline so they wouldn’t be in play. It was not fulfilled. One employee even brought up concerns that Wi-Fi could be an issue with a dwindling clock, and the Giants had several emails prepared to be sent depending on the outcome.

But even though they put pressure on themselves, it still came down to the final minutes.

“It got a little bit lopsided (Tuesday),” Schoen said. “When it got to 3:30, 3:40, there was a part of me that thought, ‘We might not make it.’ But in the last four or five minutes, we tied a bow on it, luckily.”

Jones was in the Giants facility when one of his agents approached him around 3:53 or 3:54 PM with the deal. He accepted, 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 running back Saquon Barkley instead. Jones signed his contract Tuesday night and then went out to dinner with friends and his 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 that things could get worse before they get better.

“I think there were probably some points where you had more confidence and some times where you had less confidence,” Jones said. “But I wanted to find a way to solve it, and that was the goal. That was very much my thinking and I’m glad we did. I’m excited to be back.”

Schoen called the signing a big relief for everyone.

“It was stressful enough during the three weeks that we go through the process,” Schoen said. “But then with the time crunch at the end, it just added stress on top of it all the way up to the deadline. I think there was a sense of relief for all parties afterwards… (I) gave some big hugs.”

One of the bigger offseason priorities was getting Jones on a long-term deal to not only secure a quarterback, but also to free up cap space to surround him as the Giants continue to rebuild. Jones’ situation had also been tied to Barkley’s future: If Jones were to be franchise-tagged, that meant Barkley’s future was a little more unclear. Jones said that when it came to negotiations, he tried to strike a balance.

“In a situation like this, you try to do what’s best for you and your family while balancing being part of a team and understanding the goals and visions that we have as a team and as an organization, Jones said. “That was definitely important to me throughout the deal. And I think we found a way to do both of those things and to do it the right way for both sides. That was definitely important to me. Saquon — I have having said that, he means a lot to me as a teammate, as a friend. And he means a lot to us as a player. So I don’t want to talk about his business. But that was part of it, too.”

Now both are part of the Giants’ future. Extension talks with Barkley’s representatives date back to the bye week, but the two sides reportedly weren’t close to a deal at the time. The Giants’ offer at the time was believed to be in the $12 million range. year per Athletics‘s Dan Duggan. The one-year franchise tag price for running backs in 2023 is $10.1 million. Schoen said he spoke with Barkley on Tuesday before they tagged him 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’ll do what’s best for the team. We’re still mapping that out.”

Barkley had said at the end of the season that no one really wanted to be franchise-tagged, instead wanting the stability of a long-term deal. Although Schoen hadn’t spoken extensively with Barkley yet, he said both sides knew this was a possibility if they couldn’t reach a deal by the deadline.

“If he’s frustrated, I can understand some of that,” Schoen said. “We could also be frustrated that we weren’t able to get a deal done. I love Saquon. He’s a good player. He’s going to be a part of this team going forward. We’ll see where it goes from here. ”

With the quarterback situation settled and Barkley receiving the nod, Schoen can shift primary focus to filling out the rest of the roster. The Giants will have plenty of cap space without having to spend the expensive cap on Jones, which would have been a $32.4 million hit. They will continue contract extension and talks with free agents such as safety Julian Love ahead of the start of free agency next week. In addition, they have at least nine draft picks with the option to add more to the compensatory pick system.

“I wouldn’t 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 this is where we finally have flexibility and draw capital, (our) second draw class. And we can really start building this thing knowing we have Daniel in place.”

(Top photo: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

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