The Giants are still high on quarterback Daniel Jones and seem to really believe he can be their Quarterback of the Future.
But are they really willing to gamble $22.3 million that he is?
That’s a question that the Giants’ new regime is going to discuss with ownership when they reportedly meet on Thursday prior to the start of the NFL Draft. They have until Monday to decide whether or not to pick up the fifth-year option on Jones’ contract for 2023, and they have to make the same decision for defensive tackle Dexter Lawrencethough his option will cost less ($10.8 million).
The decision on Jones is an easy one. They shouldn’t pick up the option, nor are they expected to do so. In fact, that discussion shouldn’t take long at all.
And that has nothing to do with the Giants’ faith in Jones. It’s all about finances and flexibility. The Giants have been very clear that this is a critical season for Jones, whose three-year career has been plagued by inconsistencies and injuries. They need to see what the sixth overall pick of the 2019 draft is fully capable of before getting into any big financial commitment.
And if the new regime of GM joe schoen and coach Brian Daboll don’t like what they see, they need to keep their options open for next year.
They certainly could draft a quarterback in 2023 or sign or trade for a veteran even if they pick up Jones’ option. But the finances become a little more difficult in that case. Once they pick up the option for 2023, the $22.3 million becomes fully guaranteed. That’s a lot to carry if they decide he’s not their guy. It likely makes him untradeable, too.
The more sensible play is to let him play out the final year of his rookie deal this season, because it’s not like he can just walk away if he suddenly becomes a star. The Giants still have the option of signing him to a long-term contract or using the “franchise tag” on him. That tag will cost more than $30 million for the 2023 season – so probably about $10 million more than his option would’ve cost.
But if they become convinced next season that he’s their long-term answer at quarterback, then who cares about the extra $10 million? In that case, he’d be worth the inflated price.
And while the Giants have been tight-lipped about what they plan to do, that’s what is widely expected around the NFL: That they will let Jones play out the final year of his contract, and then make their decision on his future once they see how the year goes.
They probably will make the same decision on Lawrence, the 6-foot-4, 342-ponder who was the 17th overall pick in that 2019 draft. He has been a decent player in his three seasons and very durable. But he never provided the inside pass rush the Giants had hoped for (he has just nine sacks in 48 career games). And he’s never really looked worthy of being paid like one of the top defensive tackles in the league.
That’s what he’d be if the Giants picked up his option. His 2023 salary of $10.8 million would rank 16th at his position in the league.
That seems like too much, especially in guaranteed money, as the Giants transition to an entirely new defense under new defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale. It seems much more likely he’d want the freedom to pick his own players in the future. The same will likely be true for Schoen and Daboll too.
So that’s why it makes the most sense for them to pass on the options for both, which they seem likely to do. It doesn’t mean that Jones and Lawrence won’t have a future with the Giants. It just means that this season they’ll have to work to earn that future on the field.