Daniel Jones’ uncertain future will naturally prompt some outlandish suggestions about what the New York Giants can do at football’s most important position this offseason. One bold idea involves a trade with the San Francisco 49ers for 2021 third-overall draft pick Trey Lance.
It’s a scenario mentioned by Jim Wyman of Pro Football Focus during a comprehensive assessment of the Giants’ options regarding free agent Jones. Wyman named Lance as an alternative to Las Vegas Raiders’ starter Derek Carr, who carries a salary cap hit of over $43 million: “Trey Lance could also be an option if the 49ers end up sticking with Brock Purdy as their long-term starter, though a trade package for Lance could get pricey given how much the 49ers paid to draft him.”
It’s a trade scenario fraught with problems, but an intriguing idea based on Lance’s physical fit for the offense preferred by Giants’ head coach Brian Daboll.
Trade for Scheme Fit Fraught With Problems for Giants, 49ers
There are three obvious roadblocks ahead of any deal involving Lance. First, Brock Purdy tore his UCL in the NFC Championship Game against the Philadelphia Eagles and is expected to be out until training camp, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero:
Purdy’s chances of being the Niners’ long-term starter have diminished since the injury. That’s a problem when veteran Jimmy Garoppolo is ticketed for free agency. It’s unlikely 49ers’ general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan would countenance a Lance trade and start from zero again at QB.
Finally, as Wyman noted, the 49ers gave up a lot to move up and get Lance in the NFL draft two years ago. Specifically, Lynch sent three first-round picks and a third-rounder to the Miami Dolphins to jump from the 12th to the third-overall pick.
The 49ers would surely want first-round value in trade, since they haven’t exactly gotten a return on their investment on the field, where Lance has played in just eight games and made a mere four starts.
He was all set to be San Francisco’s QB1 this season, but Lance suffered a broken ankle against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2. The injury occurred on a designed quarterback run, per Brad of TheSFNiners:
While the play was controversial, it showed how the 49ers were keen to make full use of Lance’s athleticism. He’s a natural dual-threat playmaker whose legs are just as effective as his throwing arm.
Lance’s mobility would find a home in Daboll’s offense, where Jones rushed for a career-high 708 yards this season. Neither Daboll nor offensive coordinator Mike Kafka have a problem calling designed runs for Jones, like this one against the Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card Playoffs:
There are similarities between Jones and Lance, but the latter has the stronger arm and would expand the vertical threat of an otherwise pedestrian passing game. Daboll could relish taking the raw physical traits Lance possesses and refining them into All-Pro play the way he did for Josh Allen with the Buffalo Bills.
What Daboll and GM Joe Schoen wouldn’t be so keen on doing is parting with prime draft capital to acquire Lance. They’d surely prefer to find a way to keep Jones.
Retaining Daniel Jones Remains the Priority
Jones did enough this season to earn an extended stay with the Giants. The easiest way to achieve that might be to use the franchise tag now the exact cost is known, per ESPN’s Jordan Raanan:
The tag would eat into the Giants’ $44,416,480 worth of space under the salary cap, but it would also let Schoen and Daboll keep their options open. They’d get a chance to see if Jones’ breakout season was an outlier based on good coaching, or if his form this season is something he can maintain and improve.
Any decline from Jones would let the Giants look toward the 2024 draft for a future go-to signal-caller. If Jones won’t take the tag this year, a veteran free agent like Garoppolo makes more sense as a stop-gap than mortgaging draft picks for Lance.