Giants And Jets Successful Offseasons Both Require Another Hard Move With Star Players

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The New York Jets and Giants have both enjoyed what is universally considered an outstanding offseason.

Both have identified and locked up starting quarterbacks, added talent via trades, the draft and free agency. And both are expected to keep improving after making strides last season.

But, well, there’s a but.

Saquon Barkley #26 of the New York Giants runs the ball against Fletcher Cox #91 of the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half at MetLife Stadium on December 11, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Saquon Barkley Not Happy With Tag

For the Giants it’s they signed quarterback Daniel Jones to a big contract, they signed nose tackle Dexter Lawrence to a big contract…But running back Saquon Barkley has not signed his franchise tag.

Barkley is not happy he was tagged to begin with, per sources familiar with his thinking.

And Barkley has no intention of reporting to offseason workouts unless significant progress is made in negotiations for a long-term contract.

So Barkley, the team’s best offensive playmaker last season, is not thrilled with his situation.

For the Jets, the problem is also about a contract issues. About money.

Because the NFL is always about money, people.

Derek Carr #4 of the Las Vegas Raiders is sacked by Quinnen Williams #95 of the New York Jets during the first half at MetLife Stadium on December 06, 2020 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Quinnen Williams Leaped To Stardom

The Jets traded for Aaron Rodgers to be their quarterback. And he adjusted his contract to be on his new team. And the Jets have added free agents such as Allen Lazard, Mecole Hardman, and even spent time considering Odell Beckham Jr.

But, of course, here comes the but:

Outstanding defensive tackle Quinnen Williams wants a contract extension. And he deserves a contract extension, really.

The 6-foot-3, 303-pound star from the University of Alabama, seemingly leaped (or lept, if you’re inclined) to a higher level in 2022.

He had six sacks in 2021 and doubled that with 12 in 2022. The 12 sacks was a career high and his 28 quarterback hits doubled his 2020 career high of 14.

So he was arguably the best player on the rising Jets defense. And that included defensive rookie of the year Sauce Gardner.

Now Williams, scheduled to be a free agent in 2024, wants that contract extension.

And he’s making it very clear it needs to be the right money or he’s willing to walk.

Defensive tackle Quinnen Williams makes it clear his Jets future is uncertain.

Quinnen Williams Wants Extension

The interesting aspect revolving around both these contract issues is both players are good. Both merit a lot of money.

And everyone kind of agrees about that.

The question is how much.

Williams clearly has a couple of contract that should apply to his situation. The Titans earlier this offseason signed a four-year extension worth $94 million in new money with 47.83 million in total guaranteed at signing and $66 million in total guarantees, per overthecap.

That’s an average annual salary of $23.5 million, which makes Simmons the second-highest paid interior lineman on an annual average basis. Aaron Donald is first at $31.6 million.

And no one is saying Williams should surpass Donald. But the case can be made for him surpassing Simmons.

Consider that last season Williams had more sacks (12 to 7.5), more QB hits (28 to 14) and more tackles (55 to 54). And he produced these numbers in 150 fewer snaps.

So are the Jets ready to make Williams the second-highest paid defensive tackle in the game?

If they’re not, it feels as if Williams just might preparing himself — at least emotionally — to hit free agency next offseason. Because the whole scrubbing the Jets from his social media is a move that says that quite clearly.

Daniel Jones #8 and Saquon Barkley #26 of the New York Giants speak on the field during the first half of the game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Giants Rightly Made QB Priority Over RB

Barkley, meanwhile, saw he was not the Giants priority this offseason when the team used its early salary cap resources on re-signing Jones to play quarterback. Makes sense because quarterback is more important than running back.

But Barkley is a more proven running back than Jones is a quarterback.

And while Barkley’s franchise tag number of $10.9 million would make him the 10th highest paid running back in the league, he’s clearly expecting more.

Barkley actually has declined a couple of contract offers from the Giants, the latest reported Monday, would pay Barkley $13 million per season with a chance to earn incentives that could get him to $14 million per season.

That latest offer obviously did not work. And while the Giants might be closing in on their ceiling for Barkley, the running back is said to shooting for a deal that would rival Christian McCaffrey’s $16 million per year deal.

Is a compromise possible?

There should be because Barkley must understand he has delivered only one injury-free season in the last three and the Giants should realize he seemed to regain the form of his first two seasons which can be quite dynamic.

Saquon Barkley
Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants carries the ball in the first half of the game against the Chicago Bears at MetLife Stadium on Oct. 02, 2022, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Barkley Talks Could Go Off Course

The Giants can also lower their salary cap hit on Barkley by signing him to a long-term deal while Barkley can come away with significant guaranteed money greater than he’d get with the franchise tag. So it makes sense for both sides to work it out.

There is this, however: Every negotiation reaches a point of no return.

It’s anyone’s guess where the Giants have marked that point with Barkley. It would obviously be a last resort but the Giants could start weighing trading for another running back rather than keeping the franchise tag on Barkley.

And that, of course, would make for another headline grabbing offseason move in New York.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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