Memo to John Mara and Bob Tisch, co-owners of the New York Giants: Pay Daniel Jones his $30 million a year! Make a deal immediately. Do not try to nickel-and-dime your starting quarterback.
With Jones at QB, the Giants overachieved this season. Despite the team’s lopsided loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Jones showed that he can be a successful NFL leader. The Giants need to re-sign him.
Tisch and Mara need to avoid the kind of gaffe that the Yankees made with Aaron Judge, making him a low-ball offer in the spring--a contract extension package worth $230 over eight years--or about $28.75 million a year. Judge, visibly annoyed by the offer and its subsequent public disclosure, rejected it, preferring to play the season and enter free agency. He eventually signed a $360-million deal for ten years, better in length and in dollars than the original offer.
Jones played the game of his life on Jan. 15, in the wild card playoff upset of the Minnesota Vikings. Jones also made NFL history passing for 301 yards, scrambling for 78 more rushing yards and throwing two touchdown passes in the same game.
Even before his sterling game against Minnesota, Jones had made his mark. The preseason prognosticators were predicting a rebuilding (meaning losing) season for the G-Men this year. Instead, with him at quarterback, they proved the “experts” wrong and the Giants qualified for the NFL playoffs for the first time since the 2016 season.
To put this length of time into perspective, remember that at the time Barack Obama was still in the White House, the Chicago Cubs had just won the franchise’s first World Series in more than a century and Kevin Durant had just arrived to play for the Golden State Warriors.
Jones, we must point out, has been throwing forward passes this season to wide receivers who, though they work hard and have shown growth, are also arguably the least daunting in the entire NFL.
His offensive line has certainly improved although the Eagles seemed to have him scrambling for his life quite a bit in the Jan. 21 beatdown. But overall, it was an improvement from a year ago over what may well have been the worst O line in the history of football – at just about any level, really.
There have been times when Jones has even been the G-Men’s most dangerous runner. Jones is fast, strong and fearless when he escapes the pocket. I cringe when he puts his body on the line, fretting that he risks knee injuries, concussions and any variety of season-ending problem. But Jones doesn’t concern himself with such tripe when he lunges forward for a first down to keep a drive going in the crucial stages of a game.
Saquon Barkley, when healthy, is in the Pantheon of NFL running backs. But with his shoulder barking and his body wearing down from overuse, Barkley faltered in the middle of the season--before gaining his second wind down the stretch.
Triumphing Over the Odds
Jones has triumphed and persevered over the incompetence of his bosses. If you took a shot of tequila at the mention of every offensive coordinator and head coach that Jones has had to play for in his previous years on the Giants, you’d get drunk pretty fast.
Perhaps the most convincing argument in Jones’ favor is to contrast the Giants with the rival Jets.
The Jets, pundits like to say, are one player away from contending for a Super Bowl: a quarterback (I’m not so sure but I’ll concede the point).
The experts insist that if Daniel Jones wore Jets green, the team would be a lock to make the playoffs. Do I even have to bring up the name of Zack Wilson, the bust of a pro quarterback, whom the Jets foolishly took with the SECOND PICK in the 2021 NFL draft and who has been benched this season.
Jones has given the Giants what the Jets have sorely lacked: stability, leadership and a promise for future glory. And he and Barkley are both only 25 years old.
The $30 Million Man
I didn’t arrive recklessly at the $30-million number. I recently heard someone on a sports-talk station say that the average starting NFL quarterback today earns somewhere around $32 million a year.
Whether or not that figure is slightly high (or even low), it doesn’t really matter that much. Jones has earned our trust and his payday. He may not be cemented yet as an elite NFL quarterback, like his peers, Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes or Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow or LA’s Justin Herbert or Buffalo’s Josh Allen, all of whom have cannons for throwing arms.
A Cautionary Tale
But at the same time, it wasn’t so long ago that Giants fans begged the team to snap up Russell Wilson. Can you imagine?
Russel Wilson is a cautionary tale now, having, shockingly, seen his reputation slip during a disastrous season in Denver, following a decade of glory, a championship, and back-to-back Super Bowl appearances in Seattle.
Russel Wilson’s saga underscores the precarious nature of playing quarterback in the NFL. Russel Wilson, by the way, signed a five-year $243 million pact with the Broncos before the start of the 2022 season. That includes a $50 million signing bonus, $161 million in guaranteed money and an average annual salary of roughly $49 million a season. Topping it off, Denver mortgaged its future by trading numerous draft choices to acquire Wilson from Seattle.
Sure, the Giants could theoretically do better than lock down Daniel Jones for a multiyear contract.
But Big Blue could also do a heck of a lot worse. It is prudent to hang on to Jones. I wouldn’t be surprised if he leads the Giants to a Super Bowl appearance in the next few seasons.
Unlike the Jets, their co-tennants at Met Life Stadium, the Giants have their QB of the present--and the future. Daniel Jones has earned the big deal.