Daniel Jones will remain a member of the New York Giants, after he signed a four-year contract on Tuesday, March 7. Big Blue left until within minutes of the deadline for applying the franchise tag before agreeing to a deal to keep their starting quarterback in the fold for the long haul.
Jones will now earn $40 million per year in a deal, as reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport:
Rapoport also credited the New York Post’s Ryan Dunleavy for being the first to confirm a deal was “in place” between player and team.
It’s an ideal resolution for the Giants, who have wanted to secure Jones for multiple years. General manager Joe Schoen achieved it in a clever, cost-effective way, with Paul Schwartz of the New York Post revealing Jones’ new cap hit for 2023 gives the Giants “room to maneuver with free agency upcoming.”
That’s important for a team with $37,166,080 under the salary cap and pressing needs to address at wide receiver, inside linebacker and cornerback. Not using the franchise tag on Jones has freed up some money for those ends, while giving the 25-year-old $82 million in guaranteed money only places him “8th among quarterbacks,” according to Pro Football Focus’ Brad Spielberger.
Schoen has achieved what he wanted, now it’s up to Jones to prove he merits the money. Jones might feel he already proven himself by leading the Giants to 10 wins and the playoffs.
Giants’ Starter Needs to Prove It All Over Again
Proving it in 2022 meant Jones throwing for a career-high 3,205 yards and 708 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. Jones got stronger during the business end of the season, despite a lack of elite targets in the passing game.
That’s why Jones and his camp felt he’d earned a contract paying as much as $45 million annually. The figure represents the average salary of the top five highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL.
Jones’ underlying numbers don’t justify a salary on that level. Many, including former Detroit Lions quarterback Dan Orlovsky, struggle to comprehend the possibility of Jones earning this money.
Orlovsky told Get UP ESPN: “That is mind-boggling to me. “‘Cause if you’re the Giants, who else is paying him this money?”
Orlovsky’s disbelief is merely a reflection of how bloated the quarterback market can become. Especially at its middle tier. Teams are so desperate for even competent play from football’s most important position they’ll overpay any passer walking upright who can string some wins together.
That’s the reality of the modern NFL, but it’s not Jones’ fault. He was within his rights to demand the maximum for his services. He’s also entitled to expect the Giants to put more talent around him.
Giants Still Need Better Talent at Wide Receiver
Whether Jones proves worthy of his payday or not, Schoen still needs to equip the offense with better wide receivers. He only needs to look at the contract signed by another would-be free-agent quarterback to appreciate the correlation between marquee receivers and big-time numbers from a passer.
Geno Smith got paid by the Seattle Seahawks after posting a 4,282-yard season that also included 30 touchdown passes. Smith’s reward is a three-year deal worth $105 million, according to The Score’s Jordan Schultz, h/t Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News, with Leonard noting the statistical disparity between Smith and Jones:
There’s also a disparity between who both quarterbacks threw to last season. While Smith targeted Pro-Bowlers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, Jones primarily aimed for unheralded duo Richie James and Darius Slayton, both of whom are free agents.
The difference in numbers shows the dilemma the Giants have faced regarding Jones’ future. Schoen and Daboll have had to gamble Jones will improve sufficiently with better weapons at his disposal.
Ironically, the process of finding those weapons will start by keeping what Jones already has, with tagging running back Saquon Barkley likely coming next. Once Barkley’s immediate future is secured, Schoen must use his remaining resources to get his quarterback a go-to receiver.