When Giants general manager Joe Schoen spoke during the team’s midseason bye, running back Saquon Barkley sounded like the apple of his eye. Schoen said in a WFAN interview that Barkley was someone “we’d like to keep around here,” then backed up his words by commencing negotiations on an extension with the running back’s agent.

Meanwhile, Schoen didn’t offer much on quarterback Daniel Jones’ future. Instead, he stressed that the new regime had only worked with Jones for eight games and called it “an ongoing evaluation.” Schoen’s lukewarm public comments were reinforced by his electing not to start negotiations with Jones’ agents on a long-term deal.

Schoen’s tone changed on both players in the 12 weeks between news conferences. Schoen was measured in his evaluation of Barkley in his season-ending media session last week, referencing salary-cap constraints and positional value while adding a qualifier that he’d like the 25-year-old back “if it works out.” Schoen also said the sides were “off on the value” and “weren’t really that close” during their midseason negotiations.

Schoen’s first words on Jones in the season-ending news conference were that “we’d like Daniel to be here.” Schoen did mention the “business side” of the equation, but seemed to slip later when he said, “We’re happy Daniel’s going to be here.”

The shift in Schoen’s public commentary hints at the direction the franchise will take during a pivotal offseason. Let’s retrace how the Giants got to this point:


Change of plans?

Schoen telegraphed how he expected things to play out in his first months on the job. First, he declined Jones’ $22.4 million fifth-year option for 2023. No quarterback has ever signed an extension with his team after having his fifth-year option declined.

Then, Schoen spent precious cap space on backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor, with the bulk of the two-year, $11 million deal counting on the 2023 cap. Having Taylor signed provided the Giants a veteran bridge option if they selected a quarterback in the 2023 draft.