Julian Love knew he could not be the No. 1 priority for the Giants this offseason even before he was told where he ranked in the pecking order of players the team was considering to bring back.
“First and foremost, they told me they had to deal with the big dogs, Daniel [Jones] and Saquon [Barkley], and so I was kind of in the next list of players they need to get done,’’ Love said Friday on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “Things, for sure, have kind of ramped up since that March 7 date with DJ and Saquon.’’
Indeed, the Giants signed Jones to a four-year, $160 million contract this past Tuesday, then put the franchise tag on Barkley.
With those priority items checked off, general manager Joe Schoen next turned his focus to dealing with some of his other free agents.
Love is high on that list.
As a full-time starter in 2022 for the first time in his four seasons with the Giants, Love led the team with 124 tackles and played 95 percent of the snaps on defense as a vital and versatile part of Wink Martindale’s system.
Love held down the fort when Xavier McKinney, Love’s partner on the back end, missed seven consecutive games after he fractured three fingers during a bye week vacation accident.
The Giants made an offer to Love during the bye week last season, but it was not accepted.
They want him back, but are also cognizant that McKinney will likely command big money next year and there is only so much they can spend at the safety position.
“I think I saw a couple of safeties may be released, so we’ll see what that market looks like, and if there’s gonna be a surplus or not, and where his value falls,’’ Schoen said last week at the NFL scouting combine. “We love Julian.’’
Love, who will turn 25 on March 19, wants to stay. He also wants to get paid.
“They expressed interest, they’ve constantly expressed interest to us,’’ he said. “Since the end of the season they’ve reiterated the interest to bring me back. Obviously, I reiterated I want to be back. Hopefully, we can meet on the price.
“Spending four years with the Giants, the staff is just amazing, from the equipment people, training staff, everybody throughout the building each day, it’s a top-tier organization for sure. My first-through-third year we weren’t good. Finally we got on the right track and there’s a sense of wanting to finish the job with the team that drafted you. But at the same time you just can’t settle. Football careers are so short that you have to get what you feel is fair in the time you are in it.
“I’m human, money is a huge part of the equation, but it’s not the end-all, be-all, I would say. It’s a huge point but the feel has to be right. If you don’t believe in the organization and their ability to grow going forward that says it all. There’s that balance that’s on my mind.’’
The Giants have until Wednesday to get a deal done with Love before he hits the open market.