An Early Look at Giants' Options if They Move on from Daniel Jones – Sports Illustrated

In 2019, the New York Giants met criticism from their fan base when they selected Duke quarterback Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick in the draft.
The concerns were there for Jones, whether it was his ability to perform in more complex NFL offenses, slower throwing motion, trouble working through progressions, fumble issues, low ceiling, or a combination of the above.
Then-general manager Dave Gettleman likely believed the issues could be corrected, and Jones could become the Giants' franchise quarterback after Eli Manning retired. Just three weeks into his NFL career, Jones became the starting quarterback and led the Giants to a comeback victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Since being named the Giants' starting quarterback, Jones has led the Giants to a 12-25 record through three seasons. He has done an average job of not throwing the ball to the other team, but he also has 36 fumbles in those three seasons, the most by any player in the NFL since 2019. He's also appeared in fewer games than any other quarterback ranking in the top eight in turnovers.
There are some reasonable factors into Jones not panning out to Gettleman’s expectations in the NFL. Most notably, those factors would be coaching changes, a weak supporting cast, or quite possibly, that Jones would never become a quarterback worth a top-ten draft pick.
With a new front office and coaching staff in place in 2022, Jones is entering the final year of his rookie contract after the Giants declined his fifth-year option. Jones has one more season with the Giants to convince Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen that he deserves a second contract with the franchise.
Obviously, multiple factors go into this decision, but only the organization knows how they would value and pay Jones should they choose to extend him.
There are 20 projected starting quarterbacks in the NFL who are no longer on their rookie contract. The average salary for an NFL starting quarterback after their rookie contract is $31,119,742, with a signing bonus of $25,220,884. (The average is brought down considerably by Tom Brady not taking a signing bonus and Geno Smith, the currently projected starting quarterback for the Seahawks, who has a modest deal.)
That leaves the question of what Daniel Jones must do for the Giants to justify paying him an average salary of $31,119,742 with a signing bonus of $25,220,884.
Let’s say the Giants decide Jones doesn’t do enough to warrant that price tag. Would he accept the average salary of the five lowest-paid starters on second contracts or later? That average salary is $9,803,500 with a signing bonus of $4,950,000.
If not, the team with Tyrod Taylor sitting in reserve as a stop-gap option should have plenty of options.
If Jones is no longer a Giant, the team will have limited options in free agency. Working under the assumption that Tom Brady retires–and stays retired–and that Lamar Jackson re-signs with the Ravens, there are slim pickings among the veteran ranks.
Jimmy Garoppolo is one of the most polarizing quarterbacks in the NFL today. After starting his career with the Patriots, he was traded to the 49ers, where he’s started 46 games in five years and has been pretty consistent throughout his tenure there.
Garoppolo, like Jones, has a limited ceiling where he will likely never be a quarterback capable of consistently putting the team on his back. Unlike Jones, Garoppolo has made deep playoff runs, including a Super Bowl appearance, and has done a relatively sound job in taking care of the ball.
49ers fans have soured on Garoppolo in recent years, and if he isn’t traded this season, he’ll likely hit free agency in 2023 looking for a new home. Even if Garoppolo is signed, it would likely be a short-term deal for him to prove himself after losing his starting job with the 49ers.
Has there been a quarterback with a more wild journey than Baker Mayfield? After two rough rookie seasons, he helped lead the Cleveland Browns to their first playoff berth in franchise history. (Okay, that was a bit of an exaggeration, but it felt like the first time the Browns ever made the playoffs.)
The former first overall pick in 2018 has had his fair share of franchise quarterback moments, but the relationship with Cleveland went sour in 2021 with Mayfield’s poor play.
Coming out of Oklahoma, Mayfield was my highest-ranked quarterback in the draft. Mayfield hasn’t lived up to the hype, but I remain adamant that 2021 was more about the injury to Mayfield’s shoulder than anything else.
There are a lot of “ifs” surrounding Mayfield’s potential, but if he can rebound to his 2020 self, his shoulder clears medicals, and he doesn’t re-sign with the Panthers, it could be worth it to see if this coaching staff thinks he can lead the Giants back to the playoffs.
Let's check in around the NFC East to see how the four teams have taken shape over the summer.
Giants WR Kadarius Toney has put last year's disappointing season behind him and is ready to go in Year 2.
Daniel Jones has looked good this summer, but his real test to prove his worthiness as the franchise quarterback is still to come.
Finally, a name with legitimate upside. Huntley signed a standard three-year undrafted free agent contract with the Ravens in 2020, meaning that he’s entering the last year of his deal in 2022. With the probable outcome in Baltimore being that Lamar Jackson will sign a long-term contract, Huntley could (and should) be looking for a starting opportunity elsewhere.
Huntley picked up four starts in 2021, while Jackson was dinged up, and struggled during those games, going 1-3 with issues getting the passing game working consistently while finding plenty of success on the ground. The promise is there for Huntley to become a quality starting quarterback in the NFL with a coaching staff willing to develop him.
With Daboll and Mike Kafka controlling the offense for the Giants, they’ve both played key roles in developing raw quarterbacks. While Huntley doesn’t have the ceiling to be the next Mahomes or Allen, he can certainly become an above-average quarterback with an offense built to his strengths.
Before even talking about prospects, the range of the pick means nothing at this point. Players will rise and fall dramatically from now until the 2023 NFL Draft, but it’s important to start recognizing some names that could be available for the Giants. Everyone will hear about C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young, but today we’ll only talk about Stroud and three others.
Looking back to the Chiefs vs. Bills in the divisional round of last year's playoffs, everybody is looking for their quarterback who can replicate what Allen and Mahomes did. It’s even part of the reason so many people loved Malik Willis in the 2022 Draft, but who could be those guys in 2023?
In a not-so-shocking turn of events, the host of Locked On Gators put the Florida Gators quarterback first on the list. This is more about my comparison for Richardson than anything else to Allen.
Many people will go with Cam Newton, but watching Anthony Richardson, the parallels to Allen are clear. The ability to throw the ball 70+ yards in the air, 4.4 40-yard dash speed, wildly inconsistent accuracy, or the willingness to hurdle a defender, Richardson is very similar to Allen when the latter came out of Wyoming.
While Richardson is the player you would love to have in Madden, he has major accuracy concerns and some mechanical issues that need to be cleaned up. 2022 will be Richardson’s first year as a starter which could answer many of the questions surrounding his game.
Who better to take Richardson's raw talent and potential and turn that into a franchise quarterback than two coaches who helped Allen and Mahomes become the elite quarterbacks they are? Turnovers might be an issue with Richardson’s gunslinger mentality, but that’s something that NFL teams have shown they’ll accept if the quarterback knows when to dial it up.
I have no problem admitting that based on how 2021 started, I was not an immediate believer in Stroud. It wasn’t just that he was struggling with accuracy or mechanics; he seemed like he was playing scared.
Once Stroud settled in, though, he became one of the best passers in the nation, leading an explosive Ohio State offense on his way to becoming the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and a Heisman Trophy finalist.
Stroud has one of the highest football IQs in college, and he’s willing and able to complete passes downfield. While he’s not Allen strong, he’s capable of leading an offense that will stretch the field vertically.
Stroud has mechanical issues to clean up, which could help improve his ability to throw the ball downfield even better, but he’s got legitimate franchise quarterback potential. The confidence concerns are still there for me, but if he commands and leads the Ohio State offense this season, those questions will be answered.
I have openly been one of the biggest skeptics of Kentucky's Will Levis. He’s raw, panics under pressure, and his pocket presence is sometimes abysmal. As negative as that sounds, the potential is there for Levis, and his offense is a simplified version of Daboll’s offense from Buffalo, leading us to believe that he might have an easy adjustment to the Giants' offense.
The size is there for Levis, as is the clear arm strength and mobility, and the mindset that he’s willing to put his body on the line to win a game. A true gamer with franchise quarterback potential, 2022 will be a defining season for Levis, who lost his top target from 2021, Giants' second-round draft pick Wan’Dale Robinson.
The 2021 ACC Rookie of the Year appears on this list after taking over the Miami Hurricanes starting job. Arm talent-wise, Van Dyke might be the second-best pure passer on this list, behind only Stroud. Mobility isn’t an issue or concern for Van Dyke or Stroud, but they choose not to run until they have to.
Van Dyke can make any throw he’ll be asked to make and has shown a willingness to let it fly when he’s got time. Van Dyke has been known to struggle when the pass-rush is closing in and is a slow processor when reading a defense (but that could also be attributed to his lack of experience).
As a passer, Van Dyke has all of the physical talent NFL teams are looking for, but he needs to work on his intangibles. Like every other quarterback on this list, 2022 will go a long way in answering the questions around these young quarterbacks.
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Brandon Olsen is the founder of Whole Nine Sports, specializing in NFL Draft coverage, and is the host of the Locked On Gators Podcast.  


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