Saquon Barkley rumors: Joe Schoen says franchise tag ‘is not off the table’ for Giants star RB

Saquon Barkley Giants
Saquon Barkley
AP Photo/Abbie Parr

New York Giants general manager Joe Schoen has tweaked his sentiments toward star running back Saquon Barkley ahead of their meetings this week at the 2024 NFL Combine down in Indianapolis, stating that the franchise tag is still an option for the free agent.

“[The franchise tag] is not off the table,” Schoen said on Tuesday from Indy (h/t SNY). “We don’t want to do that in a perfect world… but we’re going to have conversations, we’re going to talk through it. I know he wants a fair deal and I appreciate that.”

Reports surfaced earlier this month that the Giants were unlikely to use the franchise tag for a second consecutive season on Barkley, who got through the 2023 season mostly healthy with 962 rushing yards, 280 receiving yards, and 10 total touchdowns under a modified franchise tag.

Giants Saquon Barkley
Saquon Barkley AP Photo/John Munson

Barkley himself has hinted that another tag would all but destroy the relationship between himself and the Giants. The 27-year-old was unable to come to an agreement with Schoen and Co. last offseason, reportedly turning down a contract worth between $12.5 million to $14 million annually — though Barkley himself called those reports “misleading,” while continuing to broadcast the sentiment that he wants to remain “a Giant for life.”

“He’s a captain, he’s a leader, he’s a hard worker. I think the world of Saquon and I still think he can play,” Schoen said. “My value for Saquon really hasn’t changed. Unfortunately, throughout the process starting in November of 2022, we weren’t able to come to an agreement as to where we thought a deal would make sense…

“Saquon may be in a different place now than he was then in terms of understanding the market.”

Live drills at the Combine begin on Thursday and run through March 4 where conversations with Barkley and his representation will take place. Just one day later, March 5, at 4 p.m. ET, the window for teams to exercise the franchise tag on applicable candidates will expire, meaning Schoen could have a quick turnaround to resort to such an avenue if negotiations fall through. 

“He’s a guy we’d like to have back,” Schoen said. “Those are conversations we’ll have this week.”

For more on Saquon Barkley and the Giants, visit AMNY.com