From the very start of the employment of Joe Schoen as general manager and Brian Daboll as head coach, there was more hope than overwhelming confidence expressed that Daniel Jones would be the franchise quarterback moving forward. That hope remains, but long-term commitments are not based on hope, which is why the Giants have declined to pick up Jones’ fifth-year option.
That option would have guaranteed Jones $22.4 million for the 2023 season, which is not outlandish money by any stretch for a high-quality starting quarterback. Whether Jones fits that description remains to be seen, even after his three years with the team. The Giants will allow Jones, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, to play out his rookie contract and then make a determination as to his future with the team.
“People are realizing it’s by far the most important position in sports and either you have one or you don’t,” co-owner John Mara told The Post late last month. “We think we have one.”
But the Giants do not know if they have one.
There is no risk to the Giants not picking up the option. If he enjoys a successful 2022 season, the Giants can apply the franchise tag to him for about $30 million. If this scenario actually happens, it is highly likely the Giants and Jones could come to an agreement on a long-term deal and that the tag would not have to be used.
“We’ll see what happens this year but we have a lot of confidence in him,” Mara said. “I know Daboll and Joe love him. He’s got all the right tools, he’s got the right makeup, works his ass off, players respond to him so you want him to be successful.”
As for a second contract with the Giants, Mara said, “That is certainly our hope. I would say yeah, I could see that happening but obviously he’s going to have to prove that this year and he knows that. But he also knows how much confidence we have in him.”
Of much greater intrigue was the status of defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, the No. 17 overall pick in 2019, a pick acquired from the Browns in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade. The Giants will pick up Lawrence’s fifth-year option, guaranteeing him $10.7 million for the 2023 season — certainly not exorbitant for a quality player.
This is a clear indication Wink Martindale, the new defensive coordinator, views Lawence as an integral piece of the puzzle up front. Lawrence, 24, has missed only one game in his three-year career. He has only nine sacks in his 48 games but he does have an ability to push the pocket, as he had only four fewer quarterback pressures in 2021 than Leonard Williams. The 342-pound Lawrence occupies plenty of space as a run-defender.
Jones, 24, missed the final six games last season with a neck injury but he has made a full recovery. He compiled his best passer rating (87.7) in his rookie year and had 45 touchdown passes and 29 interceptions in his career. He also has lost 28 fumbles, although his ball security has greatly improved. Jones is 12-25 as an NFL starter.
Usually, a starting quarterback does not head into the final year of his contract, if the team has any strong intentions to keep him around. The new regime, including Daboll — who helped mold Josh Allen into a star with the Bills — will do what it can to fortify the roster around Jones to give him as much help as possible to prove he can be a winning quarterback. There are no assurances, though, this partnership will continue after this season.