Despite recent reports, the New York Giants haven't ruled out franchise-tagging Saquon Barkley ahead of free agency. And if you assumed that Barkley was on his way out of New York, that doesn't appear to the case at this point in time. 

In fact, the Giants and Barkley's representatives had a "good (initial) meeting" on Wednesday at the NFL Combine, according to CBS Sports NFL Insider Josina Anderson. According to Anderson, the team remains open to multiple options with Barkley, pending an agreement on terms.

Giants general manager Joe Schoen had previously said on Tuesday that the team "would like" to retain Barkley, a two-time Pro Bowler who when healthy has proven to be one of the league's premier running backs. While a long-term deal is probably what both sides want, Schoen is willing to go to other means to keep Barkley. 

"I wouldn't say the franchise tag is off the table (for Barkley)," he said, via NFL Media

Schoen alluded to the NFL's increased salary cap when discussing his optimism when it comes to possibly keeping Barkley. He has estimated that the cap would be between $241 and $243 million. Instead, the cap for the upcoming season has been set at $255.4 million, a $30.6 million increase from 2023. 

It's clear that Barkley is still highly valued within the Giants organization. While his position has taken a hit, Barkley has proven that game-changing running backs don't grow on trees. 

Take the 2022 season for example. With Barkley healthy, the Giants enjoyed their best season since winning Super Bowl XLVI. Big Blue won a playoff game largely on the shoulders of Barkley, who had 109 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns in New York's playoff upset win over the Vikings

Saquon Barkley
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As far as monetary value, Schoen said that he wouldn't say that Barkley's value has changed from last year, when the Giants signed him to a one-year, $10,091,000 contract that included $2 million guaranteed. His projected market value is currently set at $29.93 million over three years for an average annual salary of $9.98 million, according to Spotrac. 

"He's a captain. He's a leader. He's a hard worker," Schoen said of Barkley. "I think the world of Saquon, and I still think he can play. My value for Saquon really hasn't changed."