EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — With 30 minutes before the NFL's deadline to franchise a player, general manager Joe Schoen wasn’t sure whether the New York Giants would be able to finalize a long-term deal for quarterback Daniel Jones.
Nine straight days of contract talks had come down to 1,800 seconds. There were no timeouts.
Schoen said Wednesday that multiple emails had been set up to let the league know by 4 p.m. whether the Giants were going to put the franchise tag on Jones or running back Saquon Barkley.
As the minutes fell away, the Giants conceded some and the Athletes First agents representing Jones gave a little, too. The 25-year-old player approved the new middle ground and a four-year, $160 million contract was struck — with six minutes to spare, Jones and Schoen said Wednesday.
It was enough time for the Giants to put their franchise tag on Barkley and allow the team to keep its two best offensive players after first winning season since 2016.
“I just wanted to know we had our quarterback here and it wasn’t a franchise-tag type of deal,” Schoen said of his goal. “That was to me, that was a worst-case scenario, putting the franchise tag on him. But I also knew I had that as a tool, so the deal had to make sense for the franchise both short-term and long-term.”
While the deal has an annual average worth of $40 million, it’s structured to create cap space this season.
Jones, who had a career season in 2022 in leading New York to its first playoff berth since ’16, will have an base salary of $9.5 million in 2023. His $36 million signing bonus will be divided over the contract’s four years so the cap hit will be about $19 million this season after roster bonuses are added in.
Had Jones been franchised, the cap hit would have been $32 million, and there was a chance he would have been a free agent again.
Schoen now plans to work on a long-term deals with Barkley before the summer deadline and defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, who is under contract through next season. He also said the team probably will take the $14.8 million cap hit in dead money resulting from the planned release of receiver Kenny Golladay.
The team planned to talk to its remaining free agents over the next week to see if any new contracts can be reached before free agency starts next week.
Schoen said the staff also will get together to talk about potential free agents, needs and the draft. He said the Giants will have financial flexibility this year to continue building a team that went 9-7-1 in its first season under Brian Daboll.
“We really start building this thing knowing that we have Daniel in place,” Schoen said, adding the organization believes the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 can lead them to a Super Bowl with the right supporting cast.
When Schoen was hired to replace Dave Gettleman last season, the Giants were in a horrible position in regard to the salary cap. Schoen laughed when asked if things were different.
“I’ll give you a good example,” he said. “We were just talking about a player, I won’t name the position or anything is like, we’re guessing what his market might: $2 1/2 (million) and I’m like, ’We can afford that, it’s only 2 1/2. We can actually afford it. We’re not shopping for minimum players anymore.”
Jones was in the Giants headquarters when the deal was finalized Tuesday. He signed the new contract later in the evening and went out to dinner with some friends and his agents. And, yes, he picked up the tab.
During the three weeks of contract talks, Jones said he sought advice from former Giants quarterback Eli Manning and other players. He said there were times he wondered whether a long-term deal would be reached.
Jones said the new deal won’t change his belief that he’s responsible for how the teams plays. He has always felt that.
“It’s my goal to earn that every day and in the offseason while we’re preparing for the season and when we get to the season, doing my best and preparing this team to win games and me to put us in a position to do that," he said. "I take that responsibility very seriously.”
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