Giants Criticized for ‘Wild’ Daniel Jones Decision

Daniel Jones

Getty The New York Giants have been criticized for making a "wild" decision about Daniel Jones.

The New York Giants entered this offseason needing to settle the futures of Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley, a dilemma general manager Joe Schoen solved in a “wild” way, according to one NFL executive.

Schoen’s compromise involved handing a long-term contract to quarterback Jones, while placing the franchise tag on running back Barkley. It was the wrong way to do things, per Mike Sando of The Athletic, who reported comments from an unnamed exec. questioning Schoen’s decision: “They would have been better off doing a bad deal with Saquon Barkley and (franchise) tagging Jones rather than the other way around. Who was going to step out and pay Daniel Jones? That one was wild.”

Sando was looking for reactions to how each team performed in this year’s veteran market, and this take casts a negative light on the Giants, despite the team managing to retain its two key free agents.

Giants Took a Risk Paying Daniel Jones

There’s logic to what the anonymous executive said. Jones may have delivered a career year during his first season under head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, but 2022’s performances were still an outlier for the player drafted sixth overall in 2019.

Jones had resembled a draft bust after three seasons mired by injuries and turnovers. He started 18 games, including the playoffs, for Daboll, while protecting the football better, throwing just five interceptions and losing only three fumbles.

The numbers were good, especially since Jones thrived without the luxury of elite talent at wide receiver. Yet, the Giants bet big his banner campaign was no fluke when they handed Jones a four-year, $160 million deal, paying $40 million annually.

It’s a hefty investment in a QB who posted the second-worst “big-time throw rate” in the league, to go with ranking 25th in yards per attempt, according to CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso:

Those numbers make for uncomfortable reading. Especially when combined with Jones directing an offense responsible for a mere 28 completions of 20-plus yards, the fewest in the NFL last season.

There are still reasons for optimism, like Jones getting better down the stretch, playing some of his best football en route to the postseason. He also showcased potential for more big plays with throws like this scoring dart to Darius Slayton against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 7:

Slayton is back, along with Jones’ favorites Isaiah Hodgins and Sterling Shepard. Schoen also equipped his wealthier quarterback with wideout Parris Campbell in free agency, along with Pro-Bowl tight end Darren Waller via trade.

A beefed-up supporting cast, coupled with the fiscal show of faith represented by the new contract, can help Jones take the next step. That’s the hope at least, but the Giants have still bet big on a player this regime was initially unsure enough about to decline his fifth-year option.

It’s an even greater risk when Jones’ long-term security could come at the expense of prolonging Barkley’s career with Big Blue. Barkley is the true star on this team and obvious catalyst for its success.

Saquon Barkley is Giants’ Real Driving Force

Putting the non-exclusive franchise tag on No. 26 was the cheaper option for the Giants, costing $10.091 million for this season. There’s are other risks, though, notably Barkley being able to leave this offseason if another team trades two first-round draft picks.

Giving up prime draft capital for a running back isn’t something teams usually do in the modern NFL, but if there was ever going to be an exception, Barkley would qualify. He powered the Giants’ shock turnaround last season by rushing 295 times for 1,312 yards and 10 touchdowns, while also tying for the team lead with 57 receptions.

Those are the numbers of an elite player at his position, but the Giants still sound unsure about keeping Barkley for the long haul. Schoen said “there’s no outstanding offer right now,” per Ralph Vacchiano of Fox Sports:

It’s far from an ideal situation, with Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News reporting Giants’ co-owner John Mara revealed “Barkley wasn’t pleased with the tag.” Upsetting their best player is a gamble Schoen and Daboll are willing to take for greater security at football’s most important position.

Paying the quarterback is the obvious move, but the franchise has been here before, with another executive telling Sando, “they overpaid Eli (Manning) in the past. That could just be a position they don’t want to mess around with and get too cute with.”

Retaining a winning QB ticks a lot of boxes, but the Giants based their call in recent memory on a single winning season from Jones. The decision will backfire brutally if Jones regresses and Barkley has his pick of the market a year from now.

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