Although the New York Giants acknowledged that they’ve done everything to “screw up” quarterback Daniel Jones in his first three seasons in the NFL, it sounds like 2022 will be his last chance to prove himself as a long-term solution for the franchise.
ESPN’s Jordan Raanan recently reported that the Giants are unlikely to exercise Jones’ fifth-year option on his rookie contract prior to the deadline to do so in May.
“It seems likely they will pass since he’s yet to show any real consistency in his first three seasons as a starting quarterback and it would mean guaranteeing him $20-plus million for 2023,” Raanan said. “It seems inevitable they let Jones play it out this year and if he has a great season, that will present a good problem.”
After a promising rookie campaign in ex-head coach Pat Shurmur’s system, where the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft threw for 3,027 yards, 24 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions in 12 starts, Jones regressed under offensive coordinator Jason Garrett across the past two seasons.
Since the start of the 2020 season, Jones has thrown just 21 touchdowns to 17 interceptions in 25 games. The University of Duke product failed to eclipse 3,000 yards passing in 2020 and 2021 and has struggled to stay healthy, missing a total of 10 games due to injury since entering the league in 2019.
The hope is that new head coach Brian Daboll, who was the former offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills, can help develop Jones into an above average starter. Daboll is credited for assisting in the development of Josh Allen, who transformed into a top quarterback in the NFL over the course of the last two years. During this span, the Bills’ offense ranked in the top five in back-to-back seasons.
Salary Cap Woes
Not only are the Giants reluctant to give $20 million-plus to Jones in 2023, but newly hired general manager Joe Schoen has a slew of salary cap issues that he must deal with, which were left over by his predecessor Dave Gettleman.
The Giants’ current salary-cap is projected to be around $-10,512,631. Schoen has previously said that he is looking to clear about $40 million this offseason.
Among the potential players on the roster that Schoen could cut to clear more cap-space are cornerback James Bradberry ($21.9 million against the cap in 2022) and wide receiver Sterling Shepard ($12.5 million against the cap in 2022). Shepard tore his achilles tendon in 2021 and is not expected to be ready in time for the regular season. The Giants could also release middle linebacker Blake Martinez, a player coming off a torn ACL whose contract will count as a $14.025 million cap hit this year.
Despite enduring a down season that was once again riddled with injuries, Schoen and the Giants are currently stuck with running back Saquon Barkley’s $7.2 million salary in 2022 as a result of the previous regime’s decision to pick up his fifth-year option last May. The Giants still have the opportunity to trade Barkley before the season begins to clear additional cap-space.
Reason for Hope
While it’s unfair to expect the Giants to turn things around in one season, they will have two top-10 selections in the 2022 NFL Draft and a total of nine picks overall.
They certainly won’t spend like drunken sailors in free agency, as they did a year ago, but money doesn’t automatically translate into wins on the field. The Giants went 4-13 after signing Leonard Williams (three-years, $63 million), Kenny Golladay (four-years, $72 million) and Adoree’ Jackson (three-years, $39 million) prior to last season.
With the Giants entering a rebuild, Schoen and the front office must hit on several draft picks in year-one if they hope to compete this season. Offensive line, specifically, is destined to be addressed in the early rounds with the likes of Ikem Ekwonu, Evan Neal, Charles Cross and/or Tyler Linderbaum being potential paths for the Giants to take in the top-10.
New York also has the possibility of landing a top edge rusher with either the No. 5 or No. 7 overall picks. Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux are the two highest graded pass rushers in this upcoming draft class and one of them could fall to the Giants when they are on the board in the first-round.
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