Now, New York faces major questions and decisions pertaining to its future. The contracts of quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley are expiring at the end of this season. Both are free agents.
Barkley, who had contract discussions with the team during the bye week, made his desire to return clear.
“I don’t want to jump to any conclusions. I’ve been vocal about how I feel and where I want to be,” he said. “That’s outside of my control. I wanted to show the Giants, show them that the guy that they drafted is still here. I hope I did that.
“Everyone knows I would love to be a Giant for life. But I really can’t give a 100% answer. It’s out of my control. Sometime this week, I’ll get a conversation with my agent Kim [Miale] and see what’s up.”
Jones left his desire as more of mystery. The Giants declined the fifth-year option in his rookie contract prior to this season, which turned out to be the best of his young career.
“Like I said, we will cross that bridge when we get there. I really enjoyed playing here,” Jones said. “I appreciate all of those guys in the locker room. It is a special group of guys and I have really enjoyed being a part of it.
“We will figure out where that goes, but I have nothing but love and respect for this organization and the group of guys in the locker room.”
Jones and the Giants fell behind 28-0 in the first half on Saturday night. They never really got it going.
Jones threw for only 135 yards with no touchdowns and an interception against the Eagles. He was pressured on 64% of his dropbacks in the first half, which was tied for the third-highest percentage of any quarterback in a half of a playoff game since ESPN began tracking pressures in 2009.
It was that kind of evening. Barkley had just nine carries for 61 yards.
“Well, crash landing here. Give Philly credit. They did everything better than we did [Saturday],” Daboll said. “Tough game. We really got beat in all facets, so it wasn’t one thing in particular. It was a team game and we just didn’t get it done. Congratulations to Philly. They get to move on and unfortunately we don’t.”
It doesn’t take away from what the Giants accomplished in their first year under Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen. The duo inherited a franchise that had five straight double-digit-loss seasons. The Giants and Jets were tied for the worst record of any team over the previous five years.
Jones and Barkley were integral parts to the turnaround. They were team leaders and captains who played some of the best football of their careers in Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka’s offense.
Given the way the team has talked about them in recent weeks, it would appear the Giants want them to return. The Giants have continuously gushed about Barkley and view him as the face of their franchise. Co-owner John Mara recently talked about how “gratifying” it was to see Jones live up to his draft status.
Jones, who was the No. 6 overall pick in 2019 out of Duke, committed just nine turnovers in 18 games, including the playoffs. He finished the regular season in the top 10 in QBR.
Barkley, meanwhile, rushed for a career-best 1,312 yards while getting his first taste of the playoffs. It was the first postseason appearance for a majority of the roster.
“It sucks, this was a fun team. The guys here, coaches, everything that we were able to build this year,” Barkley said. “The way we played for each other this year, it was special. Obviously it didn’t end the way we would have wanted it to end. Not just because of the record or because we made it to playoffs, this is probably one of my favorite teams of all time.”
Daboll wasn’t about to make any big-picture declarations about the future of some of his biggest names and best players. That will happen in what he described as a long offseason that sits on the horizon.
The time for those conversations in his estimation was not Saturday night. It would be down the road. Daboll was still processing what went down on the field in Philadelphia rather than assessing the team’s future.
“I’m disappointed,” he said. “I wish we could have done a better job. I wish I could have done a better job. I feel like crap. That’s as honest as you can be.
“You work extremely hard to get to this spot. You do not take it for granted. This is a hard place to get to, the division round, and to move forward. I feel more for the players and the coaches because we put everything we had into it. We just didn’t get it done.”