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Giants GM Joe Schoen: Using franchise tag on RB Saquon Barkley for second time not 'off the table'

INDIANAPOLIS -- New York Giants general manager Joe Schoen said on Tuesday from the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine that the team would like to bring back pending free-agent running back Saquon Barkley, and they might have a better chance to do so than it first appeared.

Schoen said he was "pleasantly surprised" when he learned that the league's 2024 salary cap will rise to $255.4 million. The Giants had "conservatively" estimated it might be in the $241 million to $243 million range before the cap was revealed last Friday.

The big jump could change the calculus on whether Barkley fits in their plans, theoretically giving the Giants more opportunity -- and potentially more avenues -- to bring the running back back for a seventh season with Big Blue.

The team plans to meet with Barkley's representatives with CAA this week while both sides are together at the combine.

"He's a guy we'd like to have back," Schoen said of Barkley.

Schoen didn't rule out using the franchise tag on Barkley, just as they did one year ago prior to him hitting free agency. The Giants also have another key free agent to concern themselves with in safety Xavier McKinney.

"I wouldn't say the franchise tag is off the table (for Barkley)," Schoen said.

The Giants currently are projected to have about $30.6 million in cap space.

Barkley, who turned 27 this month, totaled 962 rush yards and six rushing TDs, along with 41 receptions for 280 yards and four TDs in 14 starts. Those numbers were a bit down from a bounce-back 2022 season in which Barkley totaled 1,650 yards from scrimmage. Has the dropoff or Barkley being one year older with less tread on his tires hurt his value?

"I wouldn't say his value has changed, especially (within) the organization," Schoen said. "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. My value for Saquon really hasn't changed."

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