Since the offseason started, New York Giants general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll have been clear about wanting to bring quarterback Daniel Jones back. For much of the offseason, it has seemed like a foregone conclusion that he would return But with Jones switching agents, his future in New York has gotten a bit murkier.
After it was reported on Monday that Jones was switching agents, another report came out suggesting that the former Duke Blue Devil wanted more money than the Giants had already offered him, potentially seeking up to $45 million per year.
Given that $45 million a year is what Patrick Mahomes makes and more than what Josh Allen makes, it would be highly unlikely that the Giants give Daniel Jones that much money after one good season.
Now, it’s entirely possible that this report was essentially planted by his new agent, letting the rest of the NFL know that Jones would be willing to leave the Giants if another team is willing to pay up. Since players can’t speak to other teams at this juncture in the offseason, agents frequently use reporters to get these messages out in the public conversation.
However, even if this was planted by Jones’ agent and no team is really going to pay this kind of money for him, it still could signal that he is unhappy with the current vibe he is getting from New York. So if the team doesn’t meet his needs for a long-term deal, what could the Giants do instead?
1. Franchise Tag Daniel Jones
This seems to be the most likely course of action if Daniel Jones isn’t signed to a long-term deal. Applying to franchise tag to Jones means that he would play one more year for the Giants at roughly $32.42 million. While that may seem like a lot of money, that was essentially what Carson Wentz was making this year and less than what Jared Goff made, so it’s not an unreasonable price for Jones.
There are two types of tags the Giants could place on Jones. The non-exclusive tag means that another team can sign Jones away but they would have to give up two first-round picks in what essentially becomes a trade, not necessarily a bad deal for the Giants. The exclusive franchise tag prevents other teams from signing Jones and would pay him that above salary for the year.
Teams can only tag one player per offseason, so if New York chooses to use the tag on Jones then they would need to work out a long-term contract with Saquon Barkley or risk losing him to free agency.
This option would theoretically give the Giants another year to see what long-term value Jones has and work out an extension with him. However, given that doing so would mean the two sides couldn’t agree on his value, it wouldn’t be likely he would want to come back to New York again after being tagged.
It essentially buys the Giants one year to figure out what to do at quarterback.
2. Sign a stopgap veteran and draft a QB to develop
If the Giants don’t want to apply the tag to Jones or would prefer to tag Barkley and avoid the risk of losing him in free agency, the team could simply move on from their quarterback and sign a veteran to a short-term deal while they develop a rookie quarterback taken in the draft.
Both options one and two allow New York to trust Brian Daboll to develop their franchise quarterback, which isn’t a bad gamble since he helped to develop Josh Allen. If your head coach has that kind of track record, how do you not give him the chance to choose the quarterback he wants to work with and develop?
Given that the Giants are picking 25th in the first round, they don’t have a realistic chance of drafting a plug-and-play quarterback in this year’s draft. They would simply need to give up far too many draft picks in order to move all the way up into the lottery.
As a result, it would be more likely the Giants take a quarterback on Day 2 of the NFL Draft who would need to sit for a year and develop behind a veteran. There are some intriguing stopgap free agents who might be willing to take a one-year deal like Baker Mayfield, Jacoby Brissett, Gardner Minshew, or Taylor Heinicke.
None of those options are likely to excite the fanbase, but their job would simply be to execute Daboll’s offense and keep the team competitive until the quarterback they draft is able to push for a starting job. Considering this team wasn’t expecting to be a playoff team already, having one year where they remain in neutral as they regroup from losing Jones isn’t the worse consequence.
If they do go this route, what quarterback might be available to them in the NFL Draft?
The best-case scenario is that Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson falls in the first round and the Giants can find a way to move up to get him, but that appears unlikely. That means the Giants would be choosing from options like Tanner McKee from Stanford, Aidan O’Connell from Purdue, Clayton Tune from Houston, Max Duggan from TCU, or Jake Taener from Fresno State.
3. Pay out a big deal for Lamar Jackson
Given that the Giants are also trying to re-sign Saquon Barkley and Julian Love and work out an extension for Dexter Lawrence, making a big swing like this in free agency would appear highly unlikely. However, it’s not impossible.
The Giants could decide to let Saquon Barkley leave as well and build their offense around Jackson. They would also have enough money to put the franchise tag on Barkley and sign Jackson to a long-term deal.
This is the least likely scenario since it would hamstring the Giants in terms of financial flexibility, but imagining Jackson in a Brian Daboll offense is fun.
4. Sign a low-risk veteran
If the Giants choose not to sign Daniel Jones and also don’t view the prospects in the draft favorably, they could opt to sign a veteran to a two or three-year deal which will keep them competitive for the time being while giving them more time to find and develop their next franchise quarterback.
The top two of those options could be Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo. Neither player would be a downgrade from Jones; in fact, an argument could be made that each is an upgrade in certain attributes. The Giants might be able to sign one of them to the $35 million per year contract they apparently offered Jones, and still be able to keep Barkley on a short-term deal as well.
Given how poor this college quarterback class looks, this wouldn’t be too shocking of an outcome either.
Whichever option the Giants choose, a feel-good year that felt like the start of something fun and exciting is now starting to feel like it might end in frustration, leaving the Giants no better off than they were heading into last season.
It’s the first major challenge of the Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll era in New York and fans are anxious to see how they handle it.