Giants’ John Mara Breaks Silence on Saquon Barkley Exit & ‘Meddling’

Giants president and CEO John Mara spoke on Saquon Barkley signing with the Eagles.

Getty New York Giants president and CEO John Mara spoke on Saquon Barkley signing with the Philadelphia Eagles.

The brass of each NFL organization convened at the 2024 League Meetings on March 25, and that meant a rare media Q&A with New York Giants president and CEO John Mara.

Although the face of franchise — from an ownership standpoint — addressed several key 2023 and 2024 storylines on Monday morning, his response to the Saquon Barkley departure took an interesting turn.

“It was kind of an ongoing discussion through the year that it could come to this,” Mara stated, per insider Art Stapleton.

“They knew my feelings that I was hoping it didn’t come to this, but again, at the end of the day I know sometimes every once in a while I read that — ‘Oh, he’s meddling, he’s meddling,’” the NYG co-owner acknowledged candidly. Reacting: “No, we’ve run our organization the same way for many, many years. If the head coach and general manager have a conviction about a player or a group of players, I’m going to let them go ahead and make those decisions.”

“That’s what I pay them for,” Mara went on. “They ask my opinion, I’m certainly going to give them my opinion, and [general manager] Joe [Schoen] knew that I wasn’t going to be thrilled with him going within the division, but at the end of the day the opportunity to acquire other players — Brian Burns being one of them — that was the direction they wanted to go in, and so I’ll support that.”

So, Mara did not meddle in the Barkley decision — or any other recent roster moves, supposedly. If he had, it sounds like the Giants would have at least bid on the former star running back once the Philadelphia Eagles got involved.

After all, Mara also admitted Barkley to Philly made him feel “sick,” according to SNY’s Connor Hughes.

John Mara Still Has Faith in Joe Schoen & Brian Daboll, But Wishes the Latter Would ‘Tone It Down’ Sometimes

Similar to Barkley, Mara made it clear that he will not get in the way of an eventual Daniel Jones decision on March 25. He’s trusting Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll to lead this organization out of its recent rut, and he still believes that the two 2022 hires can do that.

“Certainly, last season was a huge disappointment to me, especially coming off of a playoff year,” Mara told reporters on Monday (via New York Post reporter Paul Schwartz).

“I still believe we’re headed in the right direction,” he continued, “and I have all the confidence in Joe [Schoen] and his staff and in Brian Daboll and his staff.”

Despite that vote of confidence, reporter Darryl Slater relayed another notable quote from Mara about his current HC.

“There are times when I wish he would tone it down a little bit,” the co-owner voiced, regarding Daboll’s intensity on the sidelines.

Adding: “But I’m also in the team meetings, and I see how he acts around his coaches in the office. And he always maintains his cool there. Does he get excitable during the games sometimes? Yeah. So do I.”

Mara ended up concluding that he doesn’t think Daboll’s sideline demeanor is “a major issue.” Nor does he believe it will “affect the culture that we have in the building.”

“I still very firmly believe that Brian is the right guy for us going forward,” Mara reiterated later. “I want him to be himself at the end of the day. If I get to the point where I think he’s acting irrationally and it’s affecting his performance, I certainly would have a word with him. I have not seen that.”

Giants’ John Mara Calls Hip-Drop Tackle a Tactic NFL ‘Had to Get Out of the Game’

The other big news around the NFL on March 25 was that the “hip-drop tackle” technique has now been outlawed. Going forward, this defensive maneuver could be punishable by 15-yard penalty, fine or suspension (or some combination of those three).

Mara weighed in on the decision with NFL Network insider Mike Garafolo, and he didn’t hide which side of the aisle he stood on.

“It was a tactic that we had to get out of the game,” Mara answered matter-of-factly. Noting that he thinks it will “certainly” help with player safety.

“The injuries were too severe and there were too many of them,” he reasoned. “My experience being on the competition committee, the players have never been happy with a lot of the safety-inspired rule changes.”

While Mara did concede that this rule will undoubtedly make things harder on defenders once again, he made it clear that the goal is to “protect” players from injury. He also expressed confidence in the league’s ability to “adapt” to this new penalty.