Eagles skate in NFL’s Saquon Barkley tampering investigation

Eagles skate in NFL’s Saquon Barkley tampering investigation

The Eagles may be guilty of taunting the Giants, but Philly was not convicted of tampering to sign Saquon Barkley in an NFL review.

The league announced Thursday that a “thorough review” of the Eagles’ free agent signing of Barkley “did not discover sufficient evidence to support a finding that the anti-tampering policy was violated.”

Eagles coach Nick Sirianni recently said that he likes to respond to trash-talking Giants fans by taunting, “We got your best player.” Now the NFL is saying there is no evidence to prove they didn’t do it above board.

The league said it reviewed “phone logs, text messages and other documents related to Philadelphia’s free agency strategy and decision to sign Barkley” during the investigation and did not uncover sufficient evidence to verify a violation.

The NFL said it also interviewed several members of the Eagles organization, including GM Howie Roseman and Sirianni, as well as Barkley and Penn State head coach James Franklin.

The investigation started because of a comment Franklin made following Barkley’s March signing with the Giants’ rival. Franklin, Barkley’s college coach, said Barkley had spoken directly to Roseman on the phone before signing with the Giants’ NFC East rival.

“[Barkley] said that was one of the first things that Howie said to him on the phone — as part of … his sales pitch to him — was not only the Philadelphia Eagles and that, but obviously the connection with Penn State and the fan bases, as well,” Franklin said at a press conference.

Direct contact between a GM and player is forbidden if it occurs outside of the NFL’s 48-hour negotiating window prior to the official start of the new league year.

Barkley, who signed a three-year contract with Philly, said at his introductory Eagles press conference that Franklin’s comments were incorrect.

“Coach Franklin I think kind of misinterpreted it,” Barkley said. “The truth was, the sell that ‘Penn State fans are Philadelphia fans,’ that was through my agent. My agent told me that. So, it happens.”

An Eagles spokesperson told reporters at the time that all recruiting done by the team is facilitated through the agent. The Giants told the Daily News they knew the NFL was aware of Franklin’s comments but the Giants had not communicated with the league beyond that.

Giants co-owner John Mara said three different times at the NFL’s owners meetings in late March that he “hated to see” Barkley “go in the division.” But he said he trusted GM Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll on the decision to make no new contract offer to Barkley and let him walk to their hated rival.

“That was kind of an ongoing discussion through the year that it could come to this, and they knew my feelings that I was hoping it didn’t come to this,” Mara said. “But at the end of the day, I know sometimes every once in a while I read, ‘Oh, he’s meddling, he’s meddling.’ 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, a group of players, I’m gonna let them go ahead and make those decisions,” Mara continued. “Joe knew I wasn’t gonna be thrilled with [Barkley] going in [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. So I’ll support that.”

Barkley caught a ton of heat from Giants fans when he signed in Philadelphia, led by former Giants running back turned radio host Tiki Barber, who initially trashed Barkley on his way out.

Barkley lashed back out on social media, and that set the tone for a contentious new chapter in this Giants-Eagles rivalry.

This spring, Barkley gushed about the Eagles’ offensive talent at OTAs after spending six years in New York.

“The biggest thing that struck me is the first 7-on-7 huddle, you see A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert and Jalen Hurts,” Barkley said in late May. “That’s not a bad group to be out there with, and that’s not even including offensive linemen.”

Then Sirianni mocked the Giants for letting the Eagles get Barkley. And Daboll, who is 1-4 in five meetings with Philadelphia through two seasons, declined to return fire.

“I love Giants fans,” Daboll said recently when asked about Sirianni’s comments. “Look, I’m focused on OTA. I’m focused on our football team going out here and having a good practice.”

The NFL, meanwhile, left the door open to potential new findings changing the result of this tampering review.

“As with every review, should new evidence be uncovered, the league may reopen the investigation,” the league said in a statement.

But for now, the Giants will have to settle for trying to make the Eagles pay on Oct. 20 at MetLife Stadium and Jan. 5 at Lincoln Financial Field.

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