Daniel Jones had a good season. It wasn’t incredible. It wasn’t dominant. It was solid. Arguably 2022 was the first good season Jones had had since entering the league in 2019, and now he’s reportedly looking to cash in, in a major way.
A lot is unknown about the Giants’ negotiations with the quarterback. The expectation was that things would go fairly smoothly, but things have hit a snag. Jones changed his agency representation following the season, moving from CAA to Athletes First — and that move has reportedly precipitated him seeking a deal worth “as much as $45 million per year.”
That is an astonishing amount. A ludicrous expectation. A $45 million per year deal would mean Jones is earning more than Patrick Mahomes, more than Josh Allen. While the NFL’s salary cap is set to soar, and both Mahomes and Allen signed their extensions before the massive QB bubble of 2022, seeking $45M a year would mean only two quarterbacks in the NFL are making more money: Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson.
The correct reaction to this news is laugh. Sure, all negotiations need to start at an extreme and work their way to the middle — but this is tantamount to walking into a Mercedes dealership and offering $100 for a car with a sticker price of $90,000.
What makes a contract demand like this odd is Jones’ role inside the Giants. This was his first season under head coach Brian Daboll, and without a doubt the team had success. The Giants went 9-7-1, and showed enough fight that it was accepted Jones would get another contract that would keep him the starter, but never with the belief he was worth top-tier franchise quarterback money. His season, as a whole, was great by Daniel Jones standards — but still middling when it comes to the NFL as a whole. He ranked 15th in the league in passing yards this season, and 21st in touchdowns.
It’s here where the statistics get a little more complicated, because Jones falters when looking at raw metrics of his ability to win games with his arm, but he wins in a big way when it comes to doing the things the Giants are looking for on offense. Jones only had five interceptions in 2022, least among starting quarterbacks — and his 72.2 percent completion ratings was better than Mahomes. For a team modeling itself after controlling the ball, winning on defense, and capitalizing on mistakes it necessitates someone who can manage the game and show flashes when needed — which is exactly what Jones did.
It seems both Jones, and his new representation are aware that while he’s not the best quarterback in the league, he’s the absolute best attainable person for the New York Giants right now. They also know the team is in an awkward position when it comes to finding another quarterback for the 2023 season in a position to find anyone better. That said, the Giants still have the power.
Daniel Jones is destined to be franchise tagged at this rate
In what’s becoming an increasingly normal trend, Jones seems like the next starting quarterback to play under the franchise tag. Soaring quarterback salaries has led to cold feet on the part of teams, particularly when it comes to a player the team isn’t entirely convinced about. The last big-name QB to be tagged was questionable. The Cowboys tagged Dak Prescott before eventually signing him long term. While the Ravens are still stalled in negotiations with Lamar Jackson, and expected to be tagged as well this season.
Jones is the most obvious candidate to be tagged. There is absolutely no reason for the Giants to mortgage their financial future by signing their QB to a big-money extension after one good season. However, while the power is in the Giants hands they still assume some risk.
There is natural acrimony which builds between a player and a team during a franchise tag. We saw this happen with Lamar Jackson this last season, with the relationship between the sides deteriorating. Similarly, fans can grow weary of ongoing contract talk which drags out during a season.
Finally, hedging the bet now could blow back in the future. Quarterback salaries around going down and if Jones lifts his game again in 2023 he’ll no longer be coveted only by the Giants, but other teams as well — and that becomes a nightmare salary wise moving forward.
This situation is complicated. The Giants have saved a lot of money by playing Jones under a rookie contract that paid him a fraction of his value, and now he’s trying to course correct by going for too much. On some level it’s fair to try and make up for lost money, but Jones really hadn’t been very good over the past few years. A player like Lamar Jackson has far more of a case to be angry about his earnings since being drafted than Jones does, but the result in the same — an impasse.