Barkley and the Giants were unable to reach a long-term deal before last week's deadline for franchise players, but the sides agreed to an adjusted franchise tender Tuesday that allowed the Pro Bowl running back to report on time to camp.
"We talked for over 9½ months, and we came to a landing spot and they came to a landing spot," Giants general manager Joe Schoen said Wednesday. "We couldn't bridge the gap [on a long-term deal]. Like I said, that's OK. Saquon has to do what is best for him and his family. I respect the hell out of Saquon. I'm never going to tell somebody to do something that they don't think is right.
"Again, I respect Saquon. I admire him. I'm glad he's here [at training camp]. Again, we weren't able to get something done long term, but he's here and I'm fired up he's going to be on the field."
Barkley was on the field Wednesday for the first practice of training camp -- and he didn't miss a beat. He was instantly thrust into the first-team offense and looked explosive and nimble. On the second play of live drills during a 7-on-7 period, Barkley toe-tapped in the corner of the end zone while making a touchdown grab that was greeted enthusiastically by fans.
Barkley did not speak to the media Wednesday, but some of his teammates did -- and they did not sense any lingering effects from the hard negotiations.
"I think he's been himself," quarterback Daniel Jones said. "He's excited to be here. He's come to work. He's the same leader, the same presence in the locker room. I think that speaks to him as a guy -- his character, his professionalism, who he is, how important the team is to him. And he understands his role on it and how impactful he can be on other guys."
It was a surprise to many that Barkley was even at the start of training camp after the No. 2 overall draft pick of 2018 scrubbed his social media bios of anything relating to the Giants after the deadline passed. The general feeling was that since he had not signed his tag and therefore was not subject to any fines, he would not report until later this summer.
But Schoen said Wednesday that the sides circled back Monday and found something that worked.
"We're a better football team with Saquon here to start training camp," Schoen said.
There were only a few questions that Schoen and coach Brian Daboll did not answer during a news conference that lasted over 20 minutes. They primarily revolved around the future of Barkley, who will play this season on a one-year deal and remains eligible for the franchise tag again next year.
Barkley was unable to negotiate a "no franchise tag" clause into the deal, making it possible the sides end up back in the same place next spring.
The Giants insisted Wednesday that, despite the disagreement on a price, they didn't try to trade Barkley at any point throughout the process. New York always planned on having the Pro Bowl running back on their roster.
"We never had a conversation about trading Saquon Barkley," Schoen said. "Never. We get calls all the time. We've already gotten them this offseason, whether it's our 10th corner ... or one of your top guys. We get those calls all the time, even in June."
Barkley has said on numerous occasions that he wants to be a "Giant for life." He's made a home in New Jersey and finally got his first taste of the postseason last season. He made the decision Tuesday to sign the adjusted franchise tag in order to assure that he was in attendance on the first day of camp.