IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF JOE SHUN echoed through the empty corridors of the New York Giants Quest diagnostic training facility. It was 7:30 a.m. Tuesday when he looked into what he thought must be a cafeteria with no players.
It was then that he noticed Daniel Jones.
Sean saw his quarterback eating breakfast while the rest of his teammates enjoyed their week nine goodbyes. Jones prepared for a day of training and watching movies.
While Jones helped the Giants 7-3 to be a surprise success story this season, his future in New York has been a point of contention. There is still a lot to be done before Sean and this new regime are ready to make a long-term commitment to the young quarterback.
The Giants have no questions about Jones’ character. Freshman coach Brian Daboll did nothing but rave about how Jones remains consistent in his approach.
Sean said that after the November 1 trade deadline, any renewal talks that are not settled after the final week will be put on hold until the off-season. Jones said there were no contract negotiations between the organization and his representatives before the deadline set by Sean himself.
However, the Giants spoke with running back Sakwon Barkley, face of the franchise, about a deal.
Despite quarterback Jones’ career-best rating of 58.3 over 10 games this season, his future in New York remains uncertain.
“I don’t really get into it,” Jones told Sportzshala. “I’m going to control what I can and play as well as I can. Then let everything else take care of itself. That was my thinking. I don’t think it has changed at the moment.”
But with the giants, the situation is more complicated. Earlier this year, they rejected a fifth-year option for Jones, allowing him to become a free agent after the season. Jones has proven to be a good starter, but the Giants are waiting for Jones to finish the season to decide if he’s the quarterback they want to build around.
These are two very different differences.
“We got [seven] games remain. I mean, for all these guys, it’s going to be an ongoing evaluation,” Sean said after the farewell week. “We’ll discuss it – what the market looks like, we’ll have meetings, but it’s going to be a constant evaluation.”
SHUN’S ACTIONS the trade deadline gave away what he really thinks of this team. The Giants were 6-2 at the time, but with the lineup they lost, there are shortcomings after an off-season capped by salary cap restrictions.
They traded a talented player to the Kansas City Chiefs for wide receiver Kadarius Tony and added no one.
There are holes all over the list. The new regime has done its best to build around Daball’s balanced offense and coordinator Wink Martindale’s aggressive and opportunistic defense, but there are also needs for tight end, inside line, middle linebacker, secondary and return play.
And, of course, the most important position of all.
The quarterback’s franchise is valued at $31.5 million next season, according to Over the Cap. Jones has earned less than $4 million this year, and five quarterbacks – Aaron Rodgers, Deshawn Watson, Patrick Mahomes, Kyler Murray and Derek Carr – will make more than $31 million next season.
The Giants can absorb a hefty salary next year with enough room in the salary cap. But they also need to find a solution for Barkley, who seems like a top contender for the franchise in previous years. The franchise price tag for a running back is estimated to be in the $10-12 million range.
That would leave the Giants having to find a sweet spot with Jones or turn to backup Tyrode Taylor for a much more manageable $5.5 million.
One NFC general manager believed the “best option” for the Giants would be to re-sign Jones this offseason. Another executive with a potential NFC playoff team said “no way” he would build around a 2019 sixth overall pick. citing what he saw as an inability to win in traditional pullback situations, and the Giants’ success in Daball’s shortened offense.
An NFL executive with experience negotiating contracts suggested that a one-year deal for mid-level money would make the most sense for both parties. Something in the range of 15 to 20 million dollars.
That’s assuming there’s no big long-term deal for Jones.
“He’s the bridge to a real future starter,” the executive said.
Another source pointed to a two-year, $28 million ($21 million guaranteed) deal that Jameis Winston signed with the New Orleans Saints last offseason as an example of what could work with Jones.
Jones, 25, may not be keen on making this deal. He can probably do better on the open market. He has had more success than Winston lately and is not recovering from a serious injury.
But there is an inherent risk of letting Jones test his worth. Quarterbacks with far more fleeting success—Brock Osweiler, Nick Foles, and Matt Flynn, and others—were well paid on the open market.
“While he’s far from perfect, he’s young and gaining momentum, and more than 12 teams will need new quarterbacks next season,” Sportzshala NFL front office insider Mike Tannenbaum said. “The ball safety problem that plagued him in his first three seasons. [36 fumbles] this year is pretty much under control.”
Tannenbaum doesn’t think Jones will make less than $25 million a year, citing the supply and demand associated with the position.
Before the season started, it seemed more likely that the Giants would be looking for their next quarterback in the 2023 draft. It’s the plan that Sean and Daball used at Buffalo when they drafted Josh Allen in 2018, even after Taylor took them to the playoffs.
But if the Giants continue to win, it will become difficult, though not impossible. Buffalo turned 21st. overall pick that year over No. 7 Allen. It took starting offensive lineman Cordy Glenn and two second-round picks to make this happen.
Sean could get creative if he intends to get away from Jones. It’s still an option, albeit a risky one.
“[Jones is] does everything we asked him to do and he does it really well,” said quarterbacks coach Shea Tierney. “That’s all we ask of him.”
JONES SHOWED promising in his first 10 games of the season. The Giants have seven wins for only the second time since 2012, and Jones is ninth among all quarterbacks with a QBR of 58.3, ahead of Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 10 and 12 respectively. .
Duboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka are improving their skills. Jones has already rushed for 437 yards and hit a career-high four touchdowns.
However, Jones has a lot to prove in the past seven weeks.
He needs to keep making the right decisions – six losses in 10 games is the best pace of his career – and win games.
“This is what they say about Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady. It’s that they don’t flip the ball, which he showed,” wide receiver Darius Slayton said. “I think that’s the most important key and he’s done a great job this year.”
Sean was particularly impressed with the way Jones carried himself at critical moments. Jones is third among all quarterbacks with four fourth-quarter comebacks this season, behind only Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan. Jones rallied the Giants in a comeback against the Tennessee Titans, Green Bay Packers, and Baltimore Ravens for their three biggest wins of the season.
“He did a really good job for our football team and what we asked him to do, he did well,” Daboll said after the Packers win. “I’m glad he’s our protector.”
He did all this without an elite host corps. Slayton is the Giants’ leading wide receiver despite being buried in the depth chart this summer and earlier in the season. They got next to nothing from Kenny Golladay (four catches, 51 yards) and traded Tony before the deadline.
Sterling Shepard was dropped in Week 3 of the season with a left ACL tear, and rookie Van’Dale Robinson tore his right ACL in Sunday’s loss to the Detroit Lions, ending the season. Season additions such as Marcus Johnson and Isaiah Hodgins have already been forced to start games.
Because of this, Jones and the offense were unable to start the passing game.
“He’s a great leader,” Barkley told Sportzshala. “He’s a hell of a player.
“I will always speak highly of him, not only because he is my friend or teammate, but simply because of his work ethic and the games he makes on the football field. I think he showed it this season. to be completely honest, he has shown this many times in his career. Obviously it’s a little easier to see it, or a little more to praise it for people on the outside, because that comes with wins.”
The Giants may be on their way to their first playoff appearance since 2016, but they still need Jones to finish the season.
Jones has missed at least two starts in each of the previous three seasons with ankle, hamstring and neck injuries. He injured his left ankle during a win over the Chicago Bears in Week 4 of the season, but he managed not to miss a single moment. Staying healthy and playing 17 games has admittedly been his top goals this season.
It could all be over in the next seven weeks. The Giants will face the Cowboys Thursday in Dallas, play twice against the NFC East’s top Philadelphia Eagles, and play the Minnesota Vikings 8-2 on Christmas Eve.
“I think there’s always something to do,” Jones said. “I have expectations for myself and goals for myself to keep improving week after week. How other people see it is really out of my control.”