Giants general manager Joe Schoen speaks during a press conference...

Giants general manager Joe Schoen speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. Credit: AP/Michael Conroy

INDIANAPOLIS — Joe Schoen knew the questions about Saquon Barkley’s future were coming.

So, on Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, he answered some of them before they were even asked.

“We’re going to talk to his representatives this week,” Schoen said. “There’s nothing new on that front. The conversation, the plan all along, was to meet here in Indy and have those discussions about how we’re going to move forward with him. He's a guy we’d like to have back. So those conversations will take place this week and we’ll see if we can get something done with him.”

Schoen’s body language seemed a bit different, more relaxed, when talking about Barkley. That has not always been the case. It may be beneficial to all parties that Barkley has changed agents, moving on from Roc Nation to CAA’s Ed Berry.

Barkley has said consistently that he wants to be a Giant for life and has spoken with Michael Strahan about that.

While discussing Barkley on this day, Schoen was also as complimentary as perhaps he has ever been.

Maybe some of that glee comes from knowing the NFL salary cap has taken an historic leap for the 2024 season, with the league having announced Friday that the salary cap will be $255.4 million per club in 2024. That’s an unprecedented $30-plus million gain over last season's cap, which totaled $224.8 million.

Asked how the 27-year-old Barkley’s “value” to the Giants has changed in the past year, Schoen said: “I wouldn't say his value has changed. 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. So, my value for Saquon really hasn't changed.”

Schoen also said the franchise tag remains an option. It is likely one that both parties would prefer to avoid.

But after these comments from Schoen, it seems likelier than not that Barkley will remain a Giant.

Which is what Barkley has consistently said is his preference.

“I wanted to leave a legacy here. But it’s out of my control,” Barkley said at the end of the 2023 season. “I truly have no say. It’s really up to those guys upstairs, to Joe and all those guys. They’ve got to do what’s best for the team and whatever they feel like is best for us, for the team, then they’re going to make the decision. But me sitting here saying ‘I want to be a Giant for life’ like I did last year, it doesn’t help, it doesn’t hurt. So, I’ll just leave that up to those guys.”

Barkley was most recently seen at the NHL's Stadium Series game between the Islanders and Rangers at MetLife Stadium earlier this month. He was wearing his Giants jersey and sitting with Sterling Shepard and Tommy DeVito.

Schoen also said the Giants would like to retain safety Xavier McKinney, a pending free agent who had a terrific 2023 season.

“Xavier's another player that we'd like to have back,” Schoen said. “He's 24 years old, he was a captain, played 100% of the snaps.”

Schoen said he also will meet with McKinney’s agent during the Combine.

On the day players cleared out their lockers last month, McKinney talked with Newsday about his contract situation.

“I don’t really have any expectations,” he said. “Whatever happens, happens. I’m thankful to even be in this situation. Because it could have been a lot worse. With my hand situation [McKinney seriously injured his hand during the bye week of the 2022 season] I could have been done playing football. My career could have been over. So, it’s like, I’m thankful for whatever comes from here. I don’t have expectations. But I have put in the work. My film shows it, so I’m not really worried about all the other stuff.”

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