Saquon Barkley of the Giants looks on during the fourth quarter...

Saquon Barkley of the Giants looks on during the fourth quarter against the Patriots at MetLife Stadium on Nov. 26, 2023. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The core drama of “Hard Knocks: Offseason with the New York Giants,” inevitably was going to be the departure of running back Saquon Barkley to the Eagles.

And so it continued to be in the second of five episodes, which premiered on HBO and Max on Tuesday night.

The show concludes with a pair of calls from general manager Joe Schoen shortly before the start of free agency, first to Barkley’s agent, Ed Berry, then to Barkley himself.

In them, Schoen is blunt as he tells Barkley of the Giants’ decision not to use a franchise tag to keep him for a second year in a row and to allow him to test his market value as a free agent.

Schoen suggests that Barkley might want to stick around for less money to secure his place in Giants history, a pitch that did not end up working as Barkley left for a three-year, $37.75 million contract in Philadelphia.

In Schoen’s call to Berry, he tells the agent he is worried that if the Giants make an offer for less than what Barkley wants, he might leave for a slightly better offer simply because he feels disrespected.

“He said he wants to be a Giant for life, the chance of being in the Ring of Honor,” Schoen says. “There’s a lot of things out there that he has to take into account.

“I think he can still play, but you have to get the value right. You look at the data, and it is what it is.”

Finding the right value for Barkley was a challenge because of the depressed market for backs, especially at Barkley’s age of 27.

After some small talk with Barkley, Schoen says, “I think just mulling it over, this is the right thing to do is let you test the market and see what your value is. I don’t want to do the franchise thing or all that stuff again. I don’t want to go through that.

“If you really want to be a Giant for life and you’re interested in staying here and coming back, just see what your market is and then have Ed come back to us and we’ll see if we can come to an agreement.”

Says Barkley: “All right. I appreciate that.”

Schoen: “Can you give me your word on that, or you’re not going to give us a chance?”

Barkley: “What do you mean? Like, circling back? I already told you where I want to be.”

Schoen: “So let’s do that. We’ll go out and see what the market says. I think it’s the right thing to do. I love you, man. I appreciate everything you did for the organization the two years I was here.

“I’m not saying we’re not going to get something done, but I think it’s right, if for some reason it doesn’t work out, the organization thinks the world of you and everything you’ve done.”

Throughout the first two episodes, Schoen’s pragmatic approach to dealing with Barkley has been evident, and in retrospect his departure was no surprise.

Earlier in the episode Schoen is shown strategizing with his staff about how to approach Barkley and says:

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

In one scene, Schoen is shown meeting with the media relations staff to prepare for a news conference at the scouting combine.

Schoen rehearses answering a presumed question about Barkley by saying, “I understand he doesn’t want to be franchised. I wanted to give him a lot of money a year ago and he didn’t want that, but there’s nothing I can do about that.”

When media relations executive Dion Dargin gets a concerned look, Schoen laughs and says, “I’m not going to say that.”

The second episode has other behind-the-scenes content from the combine, including Schoen visiting the Patriots brain trust and asking to be given a heads up if they decide to trade out of the third spot in the draft.

That would have allowed the Giants to consider moving from sixth to third and taking a quarterback. The Patriots did not trade their pick.

The top quarterbacks and receivers in the draft are shown meeting with Giants officials, with coach Brian Daboll grilling quarterbacks about strategy.

One of the interview subjects is the player the Giants eventually drafted sixth overall, LSU receiver Malik Nabers.

“The Nabers kid, I thought he was going to come across with more edge, like he plays,” Schoen tells assistant GM Brandon Brown. “He was more reserved. I was like, ‘Damn, that’s the same dude out there that’s running people over?’”

Hannah Burnett, who grew up in Huntington and is the first woman to be a full-time scout for the Giants, continues to have a prominent role in the series.

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