When the Giants introduced new G.M. Joe Schoen and new coach Brian Daboll, effusive comments flowed regarding Jones. Sufficiently effusive to suggest they’d pick up the option.
But the actions haven’t matched the words. During the Scouting Combine, Schoen explained that the new regime would take advantage of its opportunity to get to know Jones before making a decision.
“The advantage that we have is that with Daboll being a new head coach, the players will be in the building on April 4th,” Schoen said in early March. “We’ll get to have a chance to have a minicamp the week before the draft. Again, we’re going to take our time with the process. We’re going to be around Daniel. We’re going to get the chance to see him throw and work with the guys that we have. We don’t have to have a decision until May 2nd. We’re going to be patient with that decision.”
Said Schoen of Jones when he was introduced as the new G.M.: “The kid has physical ability. He’s got arm strength, he’s athletic, he can run. So I’m really excited to work with Daniel. And, again, when the new staff gets here, we’ll build an offense around Daniel to accentuate what he does best.”
Added co-owner John Mara that game day, “We’ve done everything possible to screw this kid up since he’s been here. . . . We certainly have not given up on Daniel Jones.”
The decision as to whether to pick up the option for Jones won’t mean that they’ve given up on him. However, it will constitute a hedge against Jones playing well enough in 2022 to justify guaranteeing him $22.38 million in 2023, or whether they’d rather take their chances on Jones as a lame duck. If he performs incredibly well this year, and if the Giants feel compelled to use the franchise tag to keep him off the open market, it will cost roughly $34 million — a major jump over the amount of the option.
It’s an intriguing decision. Recent experiences by teams like the Browns and Panthers represent cautionary tales; both surely wish they hadn’t picked up the options on Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold, respectively. But if Jones hits a new level of performance in 2022, it will cost roughly $12 million more to keep him around.
The Giants easily could call that a “good problem to have,” accepting a worst-case scenario of having to tag Jones as the product of the best-case scenario of Jones finally becoming the guy they drafted him to be. If he doesn’t, they walk away next year, with no further obligation.