The Giants view Daniel Jones as the guy. But they didn’t view him as the guy strongly enough to exercise his fifth-year option on his rookie deal.
A Wednesday #PFTPM conversation with G.M. Joe Schoen featured multiple questions about the decision to not make a $22 million commitment in 2023 to a player to whom they claim to be committed.
“The $22 million, I mean that’s a large number, but again we’re excited about working with Daniel,” Schoen said. “We’re happy where he is. This isn’t an indictment on who Daniel is as a person or anything like that. We’re really happy with what Daniel’s done for us throughout the process when we’ve had him over the three months getting to know him and being in the building for four weeks now in the offseason program. We like everything he’s doing. We’re excited to work with him. We just thought that was the best decision right now for where we are moving forward. Again, we’re excited to work with him. We’ve upgraded the offensive line. We like some of the weapons that we have around him. And, again, we want to see Daniel be able to put his best foot forward, and I think we’ve done that this offseason. That decision was just what was best for us right now.”
We’ve described it as betting against Jones. While maybe the better term is hedge, the Giants are willing to avoid having a $22 million player they don’t want, even if it means that Jones has a great season in the last year of his rookie contract.
“It’s a good problem to have,” Schoen said of the possibility that Jones will play well. “You’ve also got the franchise tag if you need it a year from now. That’s a gamble. I’d say that’s an $8 million gamble, or you’re talking to his representatives and you’re trying to get an extension. Patrick Collins represents him, and Jim Denton. Two agents I just worked with recently over there in Buffalo with Patrick Collins, who actually represents Josh Allen as well. Jim Denton, have a good relationship with him. Hopefully we’ve set Daniel up for success with again improving the offensive line, the weapons that are here, Saquon [Barkley] another year off the knee. He’ll be able to put his best foot forward. That’s a good problem to have if we’ve got to figure out how we’re going to pay [Jones], how we’re going to structure a contract, if it’s a franchise tag. That’ll be a good problem to have.”
The gamble could be more than $8 million. The quarterback franchise tag in 2022 was $29 million. It will climb based on the salary cap. It could be in the range of $34 million in 2023. That would make it a $12 million gamble.
But here’s the reality. They decided they’d rather regret not having picked up his option because he played great than regret picking up his option because he didn’t.
Schoen also was asked whether the decision not to pick up the option was driven by a desire to make Jones more driven to play well.
“I don’t think Daniel needs motivation,” Schoen said. “I think he’s a naturally motivated kid. He’s a self-starter, he’s in here all the time. I don’t think Daniel needed any incentive to go out and perform at a high level. I think he truly wants to be great. He approaches the game like that. Although it may be an incentive, I don’t think he’s a kid that needs an incentive or a carrot out there to go perform well.”
Schoen said that other recent examples of fifth-year options exercised or not exercised did not influence the Giants, whether it’s the Bears wisely not picking up the Mitchell Trubisky option or the Browns and Panthers regretting the Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold options, respectively.
“You look at that when those teams make those decisions, and it’s the quarterback position and that’s a large number,” Schoen said. “You pay attention across the league, but we looked at what was best for the New York Giants and the situation where again, listen, we’ve known Daniel for three months. Look forward to working with him and we thought this was the best option for us moving forward.”
I had one last question for Schoen. If this were pre-2020 and the option was not fully guaranteed when exercised but guaranteed for injury only, would the Giants have exercised the option?
“I think we were, again, I think the decision we made we’re comfortable with it,” Schoen said. “Whether there was option, pre-option or not, I think we’re comfortable with the situation we made. That’s a hypothetical. I think we would still make the same decision.”
The Giants will have new decisions to make about Jones in 2023. Maybe the decision will be obvious. Maybe it won’t be. One decision they won’t have to make is what to do with a guy who’s due to make $22 million guaranteed but who they no longer want on the team.