Giants Warned Not to Re-Sign Key Free Agent

Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones

Getty The Giants have been warned not to re-sign one key free agent.

Joe Schoen has more than a few tricky free-agency decisions to make for the New York Giants once the curtains falls on the 2022 NFL season. The general manager’s two biggest concerns are the futures of quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley.

Both players have experienced a renaissance of sorts this year, with Barkley staying healthy and becoming the fulcrum of the offense. These Giants may be a run-first bunch, but Jones has played his part in the team’s 7-3 start, with his dual-threat skills perfect for head coach Brian Daboll’s system.

Keeping both won’t be easy, despite the Giants expecting to have plenty of room under next year’s salary cap. It’s a question of priority, but one executive from within the NFC told a reporter there’s “no way” the Giants should re-sign one member of this duo.

Giants Have Easy Choice, According to GM

In a report for ESPN, Jordan Raanan quotes an unnamed “executive with a potential NFC playoff team,” who offers a damning assessment of Jones. This exec. made it clear “there is ‘no way’ he would build around the 2019 No. 6 overall pick, citing what he considered an inability to win in traditional drop-back situations, and the Giants’ success in Daboll’s scaled-back offense.”

It’s a blunt statement considering Jones is a winning quarterback in ’22. For some, wins aren’t a worthy statistic for judging QBs, but ditching the leader of the team when he’s delivering results is a tough sell for any franchise.

Jones’ individual numbers aren’t great, just nine touchdowns and 1,937 yards amassed through the air. The sixth player taken in the 2019 draft has at least reduced his turnovers. He’s thrown four picks and lost two fumbles after 29 interceptions and 20 fumbles during his first three seasons.

Jones had been a model of efficiency, but two of his four interceptions were thrown during Week 11’s surprise 31-18 defeat to the Detroit Lions. He’d gone six games without being picked off, but Jones was fooled more than once by coordinator Aaron Glenn’s defense, notably when rookie pass-rusher Aidan Hutchinson bailed into coverage and was missed by the Giants’ signal-caller:

Big Blue’s problems in the passing game were no coincidence when the Lions held Barkley to a mere 22 yards on 15 carries. The correlation between Barkley struggling and Jones doing the same, is why some believe the passer is being propped up by an offense designed to hide his weaknesses.

There’s more than a little truth to that belief, but it’s also valid to say this version of the Giants’ attack wouldn’t work as well without Jones.

Blueprint for Daboll’s Offense Depends on Key Starter’s Versatility

As much as Barkley helps Jones, the latter has helped No. 26 get back to his best. Defenses that tee off on Barkley are vulnerable to Jones’ considerable rushing threat.

The QB has turned 76 rushing attempts into 437 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Many of those carries have been designed quarterback runs, like this score against the Lions:

QB runs became a staple of Daboll’s playbook when he was offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills and helped turn Josh Allen into a star. Daboll knew not to waste a talented playmaker’s natural mobility, even if it meant exposing the player at football’s most important position to more hits.

It’s worked the same way with Jones, but it’s a process. Maximizing his running ability has led to easier reads in the passing game. The next step will be to teach Jones to get the ball out quicker and improve his general accuracy.

Daboll’s track record, along with that of his Giants OC, Mike Kafka, who used to be Patrick Mahomes’ position coach with the Kansas City Chiefs, suggests Jones can make the necessary improvements.

That promise is why the Giants should re-sign Jones, even if it’s only on a short-term basis. Schoen didn’t take up Jones’ fifth-year option, but as another anonymous league executive told Raanan, “a one-year deal for midlevel money would make the most sense for both parties. Something in the $15 million to $20 million range.”

A deal in that range would leave enough cash to offer Barkley a long-term contract. Especially with the Giants projected by to have as much as $51,458,949 worth of space.

Keeping Jones for another year would mean Schoen and Daboll avoid some of the less-than-inspiring alternatives. Next year’s free-agent QB class is weak, unless Baltimore Ravens’ dual-threat sensation Lamar Jackson is somehow allowed to hit the market. The Giants are also playing themselves out of the chance to draft one of the top prospects at the position.

A one-year deal is also a gamble worth taking to see if Daboll and Kafka can complete their restoration project with Jones. If not, Schoen can use the time to prepare a more in-depth QB strategy for 2024.

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