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Giants GM Joe Schoen hopes to avoid franchise tags for Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley

INDIANAPOLIS -- New York Giants general manager Joe Schoen remains hopeful his team might be able to hit the Daily Double this offseason, re-signing both of its big-name free agents: Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley.

"I would love to have them both back," Schoen said Tuesday at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine. "They work well with each other. Their entire careers in the NFL, they've been together. I do think they complement each other well.

"We've had productive conversations with both of their representatives, and the goal is to hopefully get something done"

There's even the hope, Schoen said, that the Giants might be able to lock down both of their prime free agents without invoking the franchise tag. That would be a big development for the Giants, especially if they can avoid using the tag on Jones.

The franchise-tag math is starkly contrasted between quarterbacks and running backs. Giving Jones the non-exclusive franchise tag would cost the Giants a one-year, $32.4 million tender. Contrast that with tagged running backs, whose franchise tenders will be set at $10.1 million.

"We're hoping we don't get to where (there's a need to tag) one or the other," Schoen said. "It doesn't have to be that way. If it did (happen), we wouldn't have contract offers out to both of them. It's not necessary (that) one is getting tagged.

"Ideally, that doesn't happen. That's going to be better for the organization. I think it would be better for Daniel, and I think it would be better for Saquon if we can get deals done without having to use the franchise tag."

Players prefer the long-term security of a multi-year extension. And even teams prefer the flexibility of a longer-term contract that will afford them the room to add help at other positions.

"Especially as we try to build the team around (Jones), and questions about receiver and other positions on the other side of the ball where we may need depth," Schoen said. "So it does hurt you a little bit in terms of the team-building process. But we're prepared if that's a scenario that we're faced with. We have a Plan B and we'll try to execute that as best we can."

Jones recently changed agent representation, shifting agencies from CAA to Athletes First. Schoen said he never negotiated with Jones' former representation on a new contract, Schoen said Tuesday that he has had "productive talks" with Athletes First -- even as recently as Monday -- and are expected to meet again Tuesday for another round of negotiations.

Schoen said that negotiations with Barkley have been moved closer to a deal but that the two sides remain apart on the numbers.

"We haven't totally bridged it; we're a little bit closer," Schoen said. "There's still a gap, (otherwise) we'd have it done. We'll still work through that. We're working with Roc Nation and (agent) Kim (Miale). We have a great relationship with them and her. …

"We've had great communication. We'll see if we can bridge that gap coming up here."

The Giants have just under $47 million in salary-cap space currently, and that sounds like a lot. But Jones' deal certainly figures to count north of $30 million per year on average, and Schoen also noted that the team has had discussions on a contract extension for defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence as well. Can the Giants get all that done in one offseason and remain financially pliable?

"We're cautiously optimistic we can get it all done," Schoen said.

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