Hard knocks: The Giants tried to sell Saquon on the idea that he was a franchise legend

Hard Knocks has traditionally focused on training camp and has also produced an in-season version. However, prior to this year, it had never covered the offseason, which meant it had never had the opportunity to delve into free agency.

On the latest episode of “Hard Knocks: Offseason with the New York Giants,” HBO showed exactly how a conversation between a player and his team plays out. Cameras were rolling on general manager Joe Schoen as he shared a plan trying to convince star running back Saquon Barkley to re-sign with the team for less money.

Schoen explained his proposal to assistant general manager Brandon Brown this way: “Hey, here's our price. You want your name up here forever? Two more years of being in the Circle of Honor. Or do you want an extra million dollars to go somewhere else?”

The actual conversation with Barkley went like this, after some pleasantries.

Schoen: “I'm thinking about this and I think the right thing to do is to test the market to see what your value is. I don't want to do the franchise.” [tag] I don't want to go through that again. We've both been through it. If you really want to be a Giant for life and you're interested in coming back, look at what your market is and keep in mind [agent] Ed [Berry] “Come back to us and we'll see if we can come to an agreement.”

Barkley: “Okay, I appreciate it.”

Schoen: “Does that sound good?”

Barkley: “Yeah.”

Schoen: “Can you give me your word or you won't give us a chance?”

Barkley: “What do you mean by backing off?”

Schoen: “Yes.”

Barkley: “I mean, I already told you where I want to be, so…”

Talks ended, and eight days later, at the start of the free-agent trading window, Barkley signed a three-year, $37.75 million deal, with $26 million guaranteed, to join the rival Philadelphia Eagles. I guess in future episodes we'll find out if the Giants had a chance to match it. Or did they?

To be fair, the Eagles' offer was bigger than the Giants ever offered and bigger than Schoen seemed to anticipate, based on his comments on the first episode of “Hard Knocks.” And now Barkley, after the Giants tried to pull at his heartstrings and convince him that he's a legend alongside the franchise's all-time greats, is playing for their division rival.

Schoen admitted in his earlier phone call with Berry (which was also shown on the episode) that he was worried about making an offer before free agency that would then leave Barkley feeling “disrespected.”

That conversation between the GM and agent basically ended with Berry asking Schoen point-blank: “When you're in your room at night and you're alone, do you think, 'I wouldn't care if this kid bounced around?'”

This shows how complicated these negotiations can sometimes be. The Giants and Barkley had been negotiating for several years.

But in reality, it seemed like Schoen and the organization were ready to move on and reallocate their resources, which is fine. It's just awkward to see both sides skirting the obvious in these talks.

“I think he can still play, but you have to figure out the value,” Schoen told Berry. “You have to look at the data. The data is what it is.”

He was referring to the running back's drop in production at age 27. Barkley turned 27 in February. It's no surprise he's gone.

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