Hard Knocks pulls back curtain on Giants talks involving Saquon Barkley

Saquon Barkley Giants
Nov 26, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) carries the ball during the first half against the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants are the subject of HBO’s first-ever Hard Knocks: Offseason series as they head into their 100th anniversary season. The documentary series follows the team’s front office as they go through the Senior Bowl, NFL Combine, free agency period, and the NFL Draft.

Episode 1 was centered around general manager Joe Schoen and laid the groundwork for Giants offseason needs. Schoen seemed adamant that the priorities for the Giants heading into the offseason were positions on the offensive line, cornerback, pass rushers, and wide receiver. These positions took priority over star running back Saquon Barkley potentially re-signing with the team. Schoen was not keen on franchise tagging and trading him since that option was explored last offseason. 

Based on what was shown during the first episode, it seems fair to conclude that Barkeley’s time in New York ended because the Giants did not prioritize the running back position as much as others. However, team president and CEO John Mara seemed more intent on holding on to the star running back saying, “In a perfect world I’d like to have him back until we prove we can have a decent offense without him.”

Schoen seems convinced that quarterback Daniel Jones needs another year, saying, “We need to protect ourselves. He didn’t have much of a chance this year.”

Schoen insinuates that poor offensive line play prevented the Giants from getting a real evaluation of the quarterback in his fifth year.

“This is the year for Daniel,” Schoen said to his team of scouts and assistant GMs. “Is he our guy for the next ten years or do we need to pivot and find somebody else?”

Hard Knocks: Offseason has offered fans a look into the decision-making process that goes into filling out a roster. Now in July, we know the results of the Giants’ offseason moves. The documentary gives fans extra insight. For example, when considering running back options, Zack Moss, Devin Singletary, Tony Pollard, D’Andre Swift, and Josh Jacobs all came up as potential names to sign. The Giants front office seemed to think very highly of Swift in particular. We now know that the Giants settled on Singletary. 

Another offseason priority was adding to the defensive line. Chris Jones, Brian Burns, and Christian Wilkins were the names brought up. The documentary shows that Giants star defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence seemingly advocated for the team to sign Wilkins, his close friend. Fans got greater insight into the deal that would eventually bring Burns to New York, as it was clear that Carolina Panthers GM Dan Morgan is a close friend of Schoen, and even seemed to be putting out trade feelers in casual conversation at the Senior Bowl. 

The hiring of new defensive coordinator Shane Bowen also gave fans a peek at how the defense might line up next season. Bowen seemed intent on creating a strong defensive line and building out the defense from there. Expect Isaiah Simmons to be deployed as a nickel cornerback rather than a linebacker on first and second down. Bowen said that his system relies on smart inside linebackers. That could mean a major role for Bobby Okereke next season.

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