Evaluation of Daniel Jones’ season and what kind of contract the Giants could give the improved QB

2022 became a proving year for Giants quarterback Daniel Jones when the new regime of head coach Brian Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen declined in late April to pick up his $22.384 million fully guaranteed fifth-year option for 2023. The decision meant Jones would be an unrestricted free agent in 2023.

Jones is making progress this year. The sixth overall pick of 2019 has drastically reduced the turnovers that plagued him in the first part of his four-year NFL career. Jones’ 23 turnovers (12 interceptions and 11 lost fumbles) as a rookie in 2019 ranked second-highest in the NFL. He ranked fourth in 2020 with 16 turnovers (10 interceptions and six lost fumbles).

Jones has the fewest interceptions in the league at four among qualified passers (at least 14 passing attempts per team game played) and has lost just three fumbles this season. He also has the lowest interception rate (interceptions/pass attempts) in the NFL at 1.0%.

Jones records career highs in completion percentage (66%) and passer rating (90.5). He ranks 12th and 17th in the NFL in those categories, respectively. His 2,694 passing yards are 16th in the league.

Jones averages just 6.6 yards per pass (26th in the NFL). He’s also bottom of 33 qualified passers with only 20 pass attempts of 20 yards or more.

Jones is playing with his legs more than he has in the past. He was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 7 after becoming the first player in Giants history with 200 passing yards and 100 rushing yards in a game during a 23-17 win over the Jaguars. Jones has a career-best 583 rushing yards, which is the fifth most for a quarterback in the NFL. He is fifth in the league with 5.6 yards per carry.

The Giants, who were expected to rebuild, are close to a playoff berth for the first time since 2016. With an 8-5-1 record, the Giants are currently on their way to becoming the sixth seed in the NFC.

Jones’ improved game hasn’t prompted the Giants to start talks about a new contract. The Giants were attempting to negotiate a new deal with running back Saquon Barkley, who is also on a contract year, before their Week 9 departure. The two sides were reportedly not close to reaching an agreement. This suggests that Barkley is a higher signing priority and more of a franchise tag candidate than Jones.

It might be difficult to find a reasonable value for Jones. There is currently no real middle class of quarterback starting salaries.

There are nine quarterbacks (Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray, Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Derek Carr, Dak Prescott, and Matthew Stafford) with contracts averaging $40 million a year or more. Four quarterbacks (Kirk Cousins, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Matt Ryan) have contracts that average $30 million to $40 million a year. Tom Brady and Ryan Tannehill are the two quarterbacks averaging $25-$30 million a year.

The quarterback market takes a steep slump after Brady and Tannehill. Jameis Winston is next. He returned to the Saints on a two-year, $28 million contract averaging $14 million a year with $21 million fully guaranteed after retiring seven games into the 2021 season at the end of the season suffered an injury to his left knee. Incentives and salary increases make the deal worth up to $44 million.

To make matters worse, the average salary for quarterbacks, excluding those on rookie contracts, is $32,036,681 per year, according to NFLPA data. The number is $21,318,677 per year, including starting quarterbacks at rookie contracts. Salaries for incoming players are determined solely by draft position within the rookie pay scale.

The Giants are probably unconvinced that Jones is the long-term answer to quarterback. Given the $22.384 million cost of the declined option, a franchise or transition tag probably isn’t attractive. The non-exclusive quarterback franchise tag, which would entitle the Giants to two first-round signing team picks on an unmatched bid sheet, was expected to be $32.445 million, with a $225 million salary cap for 2023. That equates to 14 .42% of salary cap. The transition tag, which would only give the Giants the right to match another team’s bid sheet, is expected to be $29.53 million, with a $225 million salary cap.

Some sort of bridge or short-term (two to three years) deal probably makes the most sense for both parties. The Giants will not be able to pick a putative potential quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft as a likely playoff team. There will certainly be an upgrade in wide receivers, either in draft or in free agency. The free agent crop from wide receivers isn’t particularly strong.

Improving weapons in the passing game would allow Daboll to get a better idea of ​​Jones. Allen, Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa made a big step forward with the addition of a legitimate veteran No. 1 wide receiver. The Bills, Eagles and Dolphins traded Stefon Diggs, AJ Brown and Tyreek Hill respectively.

How the Jaguars dealt with 2014 third overall pick Blake Bortles as he headed into his fifth NFL season could be revealing. The Jaguars gave Bortles a two-year extension averaging $17,473,500 per year in February 2018, after previously exercising his fifth-year option for $19.053 million. At the time, fifth-year options were only guaranteed against injury if exercised, rather than being fully guaranteed if taken as they are now. The options were fully guaranteed on the first day of the option year’s league year, giving the team an out as long as the player remained healthy.

The deal landed Bortles a three-year (2018-2020) contract totaling $54 million, with $26.5 million fully guaranteed. The contract peaked at $66.5 million thanks to base salary increases and incentives.

Bortles finished a 2017 season in which he threw for 3,687 yards with 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while hitting 60.2% of his passes for an 84.7 passer rating. During three playoff games, Bortles threw for 594 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions as the Jaguars advanced to the AFC Championship Game.

Previously in 2015, Bortles set Jaguars records in a season for passing yards (4,428) and touchdown passes (35). He also led in the NFL with 18 interceptions in 2015.

Bortle’s career got out of hand in 2018. He was benched for the second half of the season and fired the following March when he had a $6.5 million base salary guarantee for 2019. Bortles last took a snap in an NFL game in the 2019 season. In October he announced his resignation.

The salary cap was $177.2 million when Bortles signed his contract. In a 2023 salary cap environment, the base value of the Bortles contract would be close to $23 million per year. A Jones deal along those lines with incentives and/or pay rises might make sense, unless there’s a meltdown in the last three regular season games or a magic playoff run where Jones ups his game level.

Without either of these developments, Jones runs the risk of priceing himself out of New York if he thinks the average starting salary with veterans’ contracts is a good barometer of his worth. The Giants would likely be inclined to let Jones test the open market if he’s targeting more than $30 million a year and explore other options at quarterback.

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