This New York Giants quarterback sent a clear-cut message about his contract status.
Daniel Jones will start under center for the Giants in 2022, which will be his fourth season in the NFL, however, the team did not exercise his fifth-year option. This means he will become a free agent after the season, and on Thursday, he acknowledged his situation as he is fully aware of what’s at stake this year.
“I think it’s natural to think about it a little bit,’’ Jones told reporters on Thursday following the Giants’ organized spring practice. “But I think you’re better off focusing on what you’re doing now and preparing as well as you can now.’’
What was expected for a number of months leading up to the deadline ultimately came to fruition in April when general manager Joe Schoen chose to decline Jones’ fifth-year option that would’ve guaranteed the quarterback $23.8 million in 2023.
“That was certainly out of my control, out of my hands, and that’s the business part of it. I understand that,” Jones said of this decision. “My job is to prepare to play as well as I can, help the team win games, and that’s certainly what I’m focused on.’’
When asked if this move disappointed him, Jones gave a very Eli Manning-like answer.
“You know, just kind of is what it is,” Jones said. “You’re focused on preparing to play as well as you can, and that’s my goal.’’
Since taking over for Manning, a future Hall of Famer that led the Giants to two Super Bowl titles during his 16-year tenure, in Week 3 of the 2019 regular season, Jones has posted a 12-25 record as a starter, while throwing for 8,398 yards through the air, with 45 touchdown passes, 29 interceptions, a 62.8 percent completion rate and 36 fumbles (pro football reference).
Jones has shown flashes of talent as a passer and runner, but inconsistent play, as well as a slew of injuries, have made it difficult for the Giants to determine whether he is a franchise quarterback or not. In 2022 he will have to prove himself in what is shaping up to be a make or break season for the Duke University product – and Jones is fully aware of the situation.
“I’m certainly confident in myself,’’ Jones said. “I’m confident in the team we have and the coaches and the system.’’
Schoen on Jones
Although Schoen and the Giants are making Jones earn his next contract during the 2022 season, this doesn’t change how they feel about him.
“We met on it (Thursday), and it doesn’t affect what we think about Daniel,” Schoen told reporters on April 29. “We like Daniel and the work he’s been putting in. And we are excited where he is, and we are excited to work with him. It was a decision we thought was best for the New York Giants at this time.”
Of course this was the best move for Schoen and the Giants. Jones still has a lot to prove in order to move forward as New York’s quarterback of the future.
Luckily, head coach Brian Daboll led a top five offense in the NFL across the past two seasons as the offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills. Daboll also helped develop Josh Allen into one of the league’s best quarterbacks. Daboll and the Giants are hoping they can unlock Jones’ ceiling in 2022 as well.
Pro Football Focus recently listed the most underrated player from each roster in the NFL. And out of 32 total players around the league, they had Jones as the most underrated member of the Giants’ roster.
The Giants overdrafted Jones at No. 6 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, but since then he has had an ugly situation around him that has only deteriorated. His box score statistics (21 touchdowns to 17 interceptions over the past two seasons) have belied better play, and had his offensive line not fallen to rack and ruin, we may have seen a player who the team had full confidence in going forward rather than a man at the last chance saloon. Jones isn’t a superstar quarterback by any means, but he has played better in a bad situation than people give him credit for. And that situation should have improved in dramatic fashion this offseason. Don’t be surprised if we see a significant bump in Jones’ PFF grade from the 70.0s into the 80.0s.
PFF has essentially knocked the Giants’ selection of Jones at No. 6 overall in the 2019 NFL draft since the night this pick occurred. However, they’re now acknowledging that Jones has been placed in a tough situation across his first three seasons in the league.
Lack of continuity: third head coach and offensive coordinator in four seasons, plus poor offensive line play, and minimal weapons, have made it difficult for Jones to reach his full potential.
Alas, the 24-year-old will need to prove himself in 2022, or he could be sent packing following the season.
On the bright side, Schoen and the Giants just drafted right tackle Evan Neal to pair with left tackle Andrew Thomas, while selecting shifty wide receiver Wan’dale Robinson in the second-round. The Giants’ offense also has Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Saquon Barkley, Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard (recovering from torn achilles) returning this season.