Giants GM pleads with Saquon Barkley to give team last call in free agency, HBO's 'Hard Knocks' shows


HBO’s “Hard Knocks” has provided a different look at an NFL franchise this year, with the New York Giants’ offseason roster building on full display with behind-the-scenes access. 

One of the things NFL fans were hoping to see is what went down with GM Joe Schoen and running back Saquon Barkley, who eventually chose the NFC East-rival Philadelphia Eagles in free agency instead of returning to New York. 

Episode 2 of the series brought that moment to life, as Schoen was heard calling Barkley and his agent, Ed Berry, about the team’s decision to allow him to test the free agent market. 

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Philadelphia Eagles running back Saquon Barkley speaks during a press conference after signing with the team. (Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports)

However, Schoen was hoping Barkley would give him his word that he would make the Giants the last call in free agency. 

“Can you give me your word on that, or you not going to give us a chance?” Schoen was heard asking Barkley over the phone after speaking with Berry first. 

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While there appeared to be some tension during the pleasant part of the call, it was palpable when Barkley responded. 

“What do you mean, like circling back?” he replied to Schoen, who simply said, “Yeah.”

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

Barkley said on numerous occasions prior to the call that he wanted to be a Giant for life. Being a franchise legend was among the pitch to Barkley, as Schoen was seen speaking with his assistant GM Brandon Brown during the episode as well. 

Giants general manager Joe Schoen

General manager Joe Schoen of the New York Giants speaks to the media during the NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on Feb. 27, 2024 in Indianapolis. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

“Hey, here is our price. You want your name up here forever? Two more years you’re in the Ring of Honor. Or you want a million dollars more to go somewhere else?” Schoen said. 

Before asking for Barkley’s word, Schoen made it clear to Barkley that the Giants would allow him to test the market this year instead of slapping him with the franchise tag – a move that led to quite the eventful 2023 offseason before he eventually returned on an incentive-laden, one-year deal last season. 

“The right thing to do is let you test the market to see what your value is,” Schoen said. “I don’t want to do the franchise [tag] thing or all that stuff again. I don’t want to go through that. We’ve both been through that. If you really want to be a Giant for life and you’re interested in coming back, see what your market is and have [agent] Ed [Berry] come back to us and we’ll see if we can come to an agreement.”

Joe Schoen Saquon Barkley

HBO’s “Hard Knocks” showed New York Giants GM Joe Schoen’s conversation with Saquon Barkley, right, in free agency. (Getty Images)

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In the end, Barkley signed a three-year, $37.5 million deal with $26 million guaranteed to head south to Philadelphia, where he not only joins a division rival, but a team that looks bound for the playoffs yet again, while the Giants still have many questions to be answered in 2024. 

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