PALM BEACH, Fla. – When he spoke to the media at the NFL Scouting Combine early this month, Joe Schoen was asked if Saquon Barkley would be included in a group of players he'd be willing to trade. The Giants' new general manager answered in part by saying, "we're open for business."
At the time, Schoen also stated: "we are not open for business on the entire roster."
That naturally led to rampant speculation the Giants would, if not necessarily looking to part with their star running back, be willing to do so if the stars aligned in their favor.
Schoen realized the firestorm those words might create and quickly reached out to Barkley.
"After I talked to you guys, but maybe an hour or whatever it was, I called him right away and he answered," Schoen told reporters Monday at the NFL Annual Meeting here. "We've had a great relationship since I've been here. I've got a really good relationship with his agent, and I spoke with her during the combine, too."
Schoen further clarified what he stated in Indianapolis.
"That was taken a little bit out of context at the combine," Schoen said. "I haven't called one team on Saquon Barkley, OK? Everybody ran with that from the combine, I said I would listen if people called on any player, so it would be irresponsible if I didn't. That doesn't mean I'm going to do every deal, so I haven't called one team on Saquon Barkley. I've gotten calls about a few of our players and he's one where a couple teams have reached out, but again, I'm not shopping Saquon Barkley."
Schoen won't guarantee that Barkley will be on the Giants' 2022 roster, but he would make the same statement about any player because general managers sometimes receive offers that are too good to refuse.
"It'd be irresponsible if a team calls - I think 31 other GMs would say the same thing - if somebody is going to call and offer you something ridiculous, you're going to listen," Schoen said. "It doesn't mean you're going to do any deal or you're going to say 'yes' to it. We've got an offensive head coach (Brian Daboll). He likes to have as many weapons and toys as he can.
"I like Saquon. We're at a little bit of an advantage here, the players are coming in in two weeks, so we're going to get around all these guys. Again, the guy was the number two pick in the draft for a reason. He's got a lot of talent and I'm looking forward to working with him."
View photos of every move made by the Giants during the 2022 offseason.
*Another player whose name has surfaced in trade rumors is cornerback James Bradberry. That is primarily because his salary consumes a big chunk of the cap in an offseason in which the Giants are doing all they can to create additional space.
"He's currently on the roster," Schoen said. "He's a good corner who was a Pro Bowler two years ago (2020), and he's 28-years old and can still play at a high level and he's on our roster."
Answering a follow-up question, Schoen said he expected Bradberry to remain there. Does that mean he won't trade Bradberry?
"I'm not going to say that about anybody," Schoen said. "People have called about certain players and people have value. Again, like I said, he's 28-years old. He's two years removed from a Pro Bowl season. He's still a high caliber starting corner."
But…"If it's the right offer and it makes sense for the New York Giants, then I've got to consider (it)."
The Giants might have to get financially resourceful if Bradberry stays.
"I'll reflect back to what I said at the combine," Schoen said, "a last resort is converting and restructuring contracts, so there's ways we can get creative if we need to."
*Another decision looming for Schoen is whether to pick up Daniel Jones' fifth-year option, which would guarantee him an exorbitant salary in 2023. By not accepting the option, Jones would have the 2022 season to prove to Schoen and Daboll he is the team's quarterback of the future.
"We have until May 2 to decide that," Schoen said. "Like I said at the combine, we're going to still continue to develop that and consider that. With guys coming in in two weeks (for the start of the offseason program), it's a real advantage. We'll get to be around guys in the building for four weeks or three weeks before the draft and have a veteran minicamp right before the draft. Again, we'll continue to have those conversations as we move forward."
Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence is also eligible to have his contract guaranteed for 2023.
"Same deal," Schoen said. "I'm still trying to get familiarized with our defensive staff and how they're going to utilize players. We've had some really productive conversations. I haven't worked with Wink (Martindale, the new defensive coordinator before). I haven't been in a 3-4 since probably my time down in Miami. Just trying to figure out what traits they're looking for in each player. Dexter's a really good player and we'll obviously have extensive conversations on what we're going to do there."
The Giants already made a decision on one of their prominent players from the previous two seasons when they released safety Logan Ryan, who quickly signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"Best decision for the New York Giants," Schoen said. "We thought it was best talking with the new staff that that was the best. I wish Logan nothing but the best."
*Linebacker Blake Martinez (torn ACL) and wide receiver Sterling Shepard (ruptured Achilles tendon) both suffered serious injuries last season. Schoen expects them to return to the field in training camp.
"Both those guys are in there every day," Schoen said. "Both working hard. I see them at lunch every day. Two guys I really enjoy being around, leaders, busting their butt. I think Blake could be back before Shep, just because of the timeline of the injury, but I've been really impressed with both of them and their work ethic and the time that they're putting in.
"Hopefully by August, (they'll be on the field). Again, we're not going to rush them along. We don't play until September. Ease those guys along. Again, they're two professionals that understand their bodies, leadership, they understand their process. The goal is to have them on the field in August."