New York Giants Free Agency Grade: Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, and Darren Waller Bring Hope To New York

    The New York Giants were busy in free agency, re-signing Daniel Jones, keeping Saquon Barkley, and adding Darren Waller. We grade the Giants' free agency.

    The New York Giants entered the 2023 NFL offseason with a set of difficult choices to address. Coming off their first playoff win since 2011 and both general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll looking to build for the future, the pressure was on to not rock the boat.

    Figuring out how to keep both quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley was difficult enough. The Giants also added tight end Darren Waller, wide receiver Parris Campbell, and linebacker Bobby Okereke.

    We’re grading the Giants’ free agency haul. Let’s dive into how well they did with their decisions and how they managed to make them work.

    Overall New York Giants Free Agency Grade: B+

    Giants Re-Sign Daniel Jones With Great Contract Structure

    The big storyline from the Giants’ offseason is extending Jones on a four-year, $160 million deal. It’s insane to give that much money to a player who created only 3,205 passing yards and 15 touchdowns, but the Giants were faced with a situation where they only had the franchise tag as leverage. Had they tagged Jones, they would’ve lost Barkley in free agency.

    Giving Jones a cap hit of $21 million in 2023 and $45 million in 2024 isn’t ideal, but they can get out of his contract after his second season if he doesn’t develop further. The fact that Jones has even reached the level of a game manager is a sign of growth. But this team rarely won because of his talent, and they’ll have to make a decision after 2024 once again.

    MORE: 2023 NFL Free Agency Winners

    The structure of Jones’ deal saves their grade. I wouldn’t have given him an average of $40 million a year, but his deal is palatable to terminate if he doesn’t show a higher upside in the next two years. And besides Derek Carr, there wasn’t a quality replacement available in free agency that was cheaper.

    Giants Avoid Spending on Saquon Barkley Long-Term

    Locking in a second long-term contract on most running backs has proved to be a wasteful investment. For as well as Barkley played last year, it’s impossible to forget that he tore an ACL in 2020 and was nowhere near the same player in 2021. He’s the perfect example of a star back who should only be franchise-tagged before the team moves on because injuries zap his powers.

    That decision doesn’t come lightly. Schoen said he was “hoping” to avoid using the tag on Barkley, and they had a long-term deal on the table. However, if Barkley wants a deal rivaling Christian McCaffrey’s $16 million-a-year average, the Giants simply can’t accommodate those demands.

    Trading for Darren Waller Was a Wise Gamble

    Trading the 100th overall pick for star tight end Darren Waller might’ve seemed like a no-brainer, but it couldn’t have been. Waller turns 31 this fall and has missed 14 games over the last two seasons due to injuries. He’s also the most expensive tight end in the NFL by $2 million.

    But Waller is truly fantastic when he’s healthy. He was one of 22 receivers in 2019 and one of 20 in 2020 who produced at least 70 yards per game. Waller is now the No. 1 target in an offense that desperately needed a primary option but few resources to land one.

    Daboll has a speedy set of playmakers to utilize in his fantastic scheme, and Waller will be the chess piece who helps raise their ceiling.

    Receiver Room Gets Minor Facelift

    Landing Waller made it less important for the Giants to add a big playmaker at receiver. Signing former Colts wideout Parris Campbell was shrewd, especially on a one-year deal off a career season. He has an explosive skill set that can be much further maximized by a better staff.

    MORE: Dallas Cowboys Free Agency Grade

    However, Campbell is another receiver with massive injury concerns. He’s played in more than seven games in only one of his four seasons. This is a terrifying thought as he joins a snakebitten receiver room that has had its own injury woes in recent years.

    On talent alone, it’s easy to see why the Giants would keep Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard. But anyone in this group could easily miss half the season once again. I’m not sure I like the risk on Campbell, considering how he’s unreliable and lacks durability.

    Adding Bobby Okereke Helps the Defense

    The Giants bolstered their defense with an absolute tackling machine in Bobby Okereke. Okereke exploded in 2021, finishing with 131 tackles, two interceptions, and one sack. He upped his tackles in 2022, with 151, but failed to make an impact outside of wrapping up ball carriers.

    There’s still value to Okereke, even if he’s not the next Bobby Wagner. With Jarrad Davis serving as a black hole at middle linebacker, Okereke raises the floor of the unit. More talent is desperately needed at the position long-term, but for now, it’s better.

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