Heading into the 2022 season, there were serious questions about not only Daniel Jones’ future as the New York Giants‘ starting quarterback, but of his future as an NFL starter. After taking the team to the playoffs, will the Giants commit to Jones long term and give him a contract extension?
Daniel Jones Proved He’s an NFL Starting Quarterback
Before the 2022 season started, it was a foregone conclusion that this would be Jones’ last year with the Giants. He’d spent the past two seasons being one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL, and New York’s lack of confidence him was evident when they declined his fifth-year option.
The only reason Jones even returned was because of the state of the QB position across the NFL — there just wasn’t a superior alternative. For the Giants, the hope was new head coach Brian Daboll could turn Jones into a viable NFL starter. Well, he did just that.
Jones still isn’t anything more than a game manager. But game managers can have success. The issue for Jones was he would consistently lose games.
Jones had 36 fumbles over his first three seasons and threw 29 interceptions. He played in 38 games over that span.
In 2022, Jones needed to improve his accuracy and stop turning the ball over. He progressed in both areas, completing a career-high 67.2% of his throws and turning it over just eight times.
I’ve long been a Jones doubter, but he proved himself this season. He’s undoubtedly one of the 32 best quarterbacks in the world. The question for the Giants is whether Jones has done enough to justify a long-term commitment.
The Giants Will Make Daniel Jones a Contract Offer, but Will It Be Long-Term?
Jones played the 2022 season on the final year of his rookie deal and came with an $8.3 million salary cap hit. The Giants are set to have about $56 million in salary cap space once the season flips over to 2023. This may seem like a lot, but it’s all relative. The Giants have some big decisions to make with big players.
The core of New York’s offense has been Jones and Saquon Barkley. Both are set to be unrestricted free agents in March.
Additionally, the team has Kenny Golladay’s albatross of a contract still on the books. He comes with a $21.4 million cap hit in 2023. However, that cap number drops to $14.7 million if they cut him, which they absolutely should.
Either way, general manager Joe Schoen has his work cut out for him in maneuvering around the cap to give extensions to both Jones and Barkley. However, if forced to choose between one of them, it has to be Jones.
What Might the Quarterback Market Look Like?
As the most important position in football, QB salaries are always inflated. Even mediocre starters make more than most other positions.
Jones is eligible for the franchise tag, but there is quite literally a 0% chance that happens. The 2023 franchise tag projects to be around $45 million, and Jones is not getting anywhere near that amount from anyone.
The state of the QB position in the NFL is as bad as I can ever remember it. More than half the league cannot confidently say their long-term answer at quarterback is on their roster.
There are a handful of other quarterbacks that could potentially be starters: Baker Mayfield, Jacoby Brissett, Andy Dalton, and Taylor Heinicke. You could even throw guys like Gardner Minshew and Sam Darnold in that mix. Jones is undoubtedly better than this entire group.
If Jones hits free agency, he will have no shortage of suitors. There are at least 10 teams where Jones would be a very clear upgrade, likely more. The Giants are incentivized to get a deal done before free agency hits.
Where Could Jones Land in 2023?
I’m supremely confident Jones will end up back in New York. The reality is the Giants can afford to overpay him a bit to ensure they aren’t left without a viable starting quarterback in 2023. This team just made the playoffs for the first time in over half a decade. Daboll is building an excellent culture, and the team has rallied behind this new, turnover-averse Jones.
The bigger question is whether Jones gets a full commitment or another trial period. I have a feeling the Giants may want to give him a two-year deal and then reevaluate in 2025.
If Jones does get a long-term extension, the best comparison I can find is Ryan Tannehill’s deal with the Titans. After proving himself replacing Marcus Mariota in 2019, Tannehill signed a four-year, $118 million deal.
Four years, $25-30 million a year would make sense for both Jones and the Giants. Jones would get paid like a legitimate starter, and the Giants would likely be able to get out of the contract by 2025 if things went awry.
In the unlikely event Jones walks, I could see him signing with about one-third of the league. The most logical destinations would be teams that are sure they don’t have their answer at the position. Those teams include the Jets, Raiders (assuming Derek Carr leaves), Colts, Commanders, Panthers, Saints, Falcons, and Bucs (if Brady leaves).
With that said, I do expect the Giants to work out an extension with Jones prior to 2023 free agency. I get the sense Jones wants to be back, and the two sides will come to a fair arrangement that makes sense for everyone.