EAST RUTHERFORD — New York Giants general manager Joe Schoen knew following the end of their 2022-23 season that the team would have some major questions to solve during the offseason.
Over the last few months, Schoen has brought in upgrades to key positions while also locking up several important pieces of the young core the team possesses. With the final extension coming on the morning before practice, in Schoen’s mind, the focus shifts to getting the new-look Giants ready for the start of a new NFL season.
“We had a plan in the offseason, culminating today in getting Andrew (Thomas) done. We have to take it day by day. Every year is different. Each team is different. That’s what training camp is for,” Schoen explained.
It’s hard not to see how the Giants have improved since their 38-7 playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last January. They’ve added key offensive pieces like Darren Waller and Parris Campbell. On the defensive side, Bobby Okereke is now paired with a new defensive starter in Deonte Banks to help solidify a rising unit across the league. But even with their additions, Schoen understands that the only way to prove they are better is on the practice field.
“We haven’t been in pads yet. We have to go out and our guys have to earn everything. We’ve created competition at a lot of positions but that’ll take shape over the next month. It’s hard to give any type of prediction like that,” said Schoen.
Of course, the free agent, draft, and trade acquisitions only tell half of the story for the Giants this offseason. In five months, New York has locked up Dexter Lawrence, Daniel Jones, Andrew Thomas, and Saquon Barkley to long-term deals.
The total amount of those deals ends up being $378.5 million for four core players on the team’s roster. Some organizations wouldn’t even dream of spending that much money, but for Schoen and the front office, their support system has given them the tools to do so.
“First and foremost, I’m thankful for the ownership for giving us the resources to operate and pay our players, even in free agency. You’re always looking for short-term and long-term plans and as we come into the offseason, some of the longer deals we did we did based on age,” Schoen added. “Just thankful we have the resources to do that.”
It also helps when the players themselves earn their lucrative extensions. Lawrence, Jones, and Thomas are all coming off career years and it made it easier for New York to get a deal done.
“I think a lot of those guys earned it. We’re evaluating those guys and how they work. After being around for over a year, all those guys have definitely earned it,” Schoen concluded.
One player who may have gotten a new contract but can certainly be considered frustrated with his current situation is Barkley. After holding out for a long-term deal, the Pro Bowl running back is essentially on a one-year “prove-it” deal. Barkley is in attendance for camp with that new deal which Big Blue’s front office appreciates, but even Schoen did not cancel the idea of using the franchise tag on him again after the season ends.
New York wants Barkley to be with the Giants this season. That’s why they keep negotiations going even after the deadline for tagged players to negotiate long-term deals came and went without an extension. It’s also why the team did not field trading calls for the back’s services in March when it seemed like it was a possibility.
But there’s no denying Barkley’s contract will be something to watch during the next few months while New York gets ready for the start of their season. Schoen has done a good job of adding talent to the overall roster, but he even knows that training camp is the place to find out just how good the team can be.
And the Giants’ GM isn’t looking to give anyone bulletin-board material for the start of the 2023 season.