The Giants' Saquon Barkley-Daniel Jones Dilemma

New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley and QB Daniel Jones
New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley and QB Daniel Jones
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 15 - The New York Giants have accomplished so much in 2022. Yet the New York Giants have accomplished so little in 2022.

Brian Daboll has done an outstanding coaching job with little to work with. Joe Schoen will have the salary cap ledger spic-and-span once he dumps Kenny Golladay at the Molly Pitcher turnpike rest stop and drives away. Despite a 1-4-1 record in their last six games, the Giants could reach the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and just the second time since they won the Super Bowl after the 2011 season.

Even a brief playoff cameo is nothing to scoff at for a team that has been mostly irrelevant for over a decade. Daboll and Schoen appear to have solved the Giants' culture problem, budget problem, and mismanagement problem.

Yet there are so many other problems to solve.

Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, and the Usual Suspects

Saquon Barkley leads the Giants in scrimmage yards, with 1,344 rushing and receiving yards to Darius Slayton's 608. He has been the Giants' best skill-position player by a wide margin.

Barkley has also been battling injuries for weeks. He has rushed 53 times for 152 yards (2.9 yards per rush) over his last four games. He is a battered running back entering free agency. The franchise tag is a possibility, but Schoen was hired almost explicitly to NOT overcompensate players such as Barkley.

So Barkley will probably walk. Wise move. But where will those 100-plus yards per game come from in 2022?

Daniel Jones refused to develop and refused to backslide in 2022. He's stubbornly a third-quartile-on-his-best-days starter. Jones is also a free agent about to enter what's likely to be a topsy-turvy quarterback transaction market. Again, the franchise tag is available, but that's an expensive proposition for a C-minus quarterback. The Giants need a real long-range plan. But what will it be, and how much will it cost?

Barkley and Jones could return to the Giants on lowball contracts, but that's unlikely. Former first-round picks rarely take pay cuts to stay with the teams that drafted them. The lowball offer is usually a signal that it's time for a change of scenery. And (Trent Baalke) someone (Trent Baalke) is likely to overpay (Baalke Baalke Baalke) for Barkley.

The Giants offense will look very different next year. But in what way? We'll spare you all the permutations. Just brace for changes that teams in the wild-card chase in mid-December rarely make in the following year.

Andrew Thomas, Dexter Lawrence, and Other Keepers

Sift through the Giants roster and you will find it surprisingly light on "keepers" despite a 7-5-1 record:

  • Left tackle Andrew Thomas: Absolute keeper.
  • Right tackle Evan Neal: Injuries and rookie lumps, but a keeper.
  • Wide receiver Darius Slayton: A keeper who needed to work his way into the Daboll administration's good graces in training camp. But also an unrestricted free agent.
  • Wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson: A keeper, but a tiny role player recovering an ACL tear.
  • Defensive linemen Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams: Keepers.
  • Edge Kayvon Thibodeax: Disruptive rookie whose sack production could come around. Keeper.
  • Edge Azeez Ojulari: Injury-ruined sophomore season, but a keeper. Ojulari and Thibs could be a dangerous edge rush duo moving forward, but some depth and diversity would be ideal.
  • Safety Xavier McKinney: Injured for the last few weeks. It has shown. Absolute keeper.
  • Safety Julian Love: More of a sturdy starter and locker room leader than a Pro Bowler, but a keeper. And wouldn't you know: also a free agent.

Those are the building blocks. Some of them, like Robinson, are highly provisional. Others, like Love and Slayton, have limited upside. It's not a dire situation, but the Giants don't fit the profile of an up-and-coming team ready to build on a surprise season.

Let's examine some position groups in detail

Interior Offensive Line: Mark Glowinski and Jon Feliciano are veteran scaffolds that Daboll and Schoen brought in to keep the offense respectable. Glowinski is a free agent. Nick Gates and Shane Lemieux are former starters who are still hanging around because Daboll/Schoen didn't have the resources to completely overturn the roster; Gates is a free agent. The Giants will probably need to replace both guards next year, and a center prospect would be nice.

Wide Receiver: Slayton is a plausible deep-threat WR2. Robinson could be a shifty slot WR3. Richie James is fine as a depth player, and (sheesh) a free agent. Vaporizing Golladay will save the Giants $13.5 million if they spread the pain across 2023 and 2024. The Giants need a WR1, whether to be taken seriously as more than wild-card leaf litter or to properly develop a young passer.

Tight End: Rookie Daniel Bellinger has been adequate when healthy, but he missed several games with an eye injury and the Week 14 loss to the Eagles with a rib injury. Bellinger could be included among the "building blocks," but what exactly are we building? At the very least, the Giants need bodies here.

Linebacker: Jaylon Smith is just a guy on a one-year contract; you forgot the former Notre Dame star and Cowboys starter was even on the Giants, didn't you? Tae Crowder would make a solid special teamer; the Giants have been starting him for three seasons because they have never been able to prioritize replacing him. He could end up starting in 2023 for the same reason.

Secondary: Adoree' Jackson is playing well and still in his prime but will cost the Giants over $19 million in 2023 cap space. Cutting him would save about $12 million on a two-year spread, but it's worth noting how much dead money they would be piling into 2024 with Jackson and Golladay. A trade to a contender would make sense but a) that did not work with James Bradberry because of those Gettleman-sized contracts and b) the Giants are supposed to be contenders. The Giants will probably just keep him for 2023; perhaps he can earn a sensible extension.

Darnay Holmes looked like a prospect as a slot corner in 2020 but never developed. Everyone else at cornerback and backup safety would make a lovely practice squadder.

Special Teams: Graham Gano is under contract through next year. Huzzah!

So the Giants will need, conservatively, a QB1, WR1, CB1, RB1, two starting guards, two starting linebackers, and reinforcements at positions such as tight end and slot cornerback if they hope to build upon their 2022 success. That's a tall order, and it's a testament to the mess that the previous administration left behind that the Giants still have so much left to do.

Joe Schoen's Money Matters

The good news is that the Giants will have about $75 million in cap space once they punt Golladay into the sun. There are a lot of productive things they can do with that money:

Re-sign Darius Slayton. This should have been an in-season priority once Slayton re-established himself as a capable deep threat. If Slayton hits the open market, he could get priced out of the Giants' range.

Schoen and Daboll may consider Slayton little more than a replaceable part and/or Daniel Jones binkie. They would know. But replaceable parts must still be replaced, so letting Slayton walk just opens another hole in the starting lineup.

Re-sign Julian Love. Safeties rarely fetch huge contracts on the free-agent market. Love is more valuable to the Giants than he would be to any other team, though the Raiders might nibble if Patrick Graham remains their defensive coordinator. It shouldn't cost much to lock Love into a hometown-discount contract.

Extend Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence. Friend-of-Walkthrough Patricia Traina of Sports Illustrated wrote about Williams earlier in December. He has an $18-million non-guaranteed 2023 contract, plus $20 million in prorated bonuses: expensive to keep, expensive to cut, but reasonably affordable to extend by converting some of that $18 million into a guaranteed bonus and pushing Williams' contract out until 2025 or so.

Lawrence will enter the fifth year of his rookie contract in 2023. The Giants have the flexibility to offer him a healthy extension. Keeping Lawrence and Williams together will allow the Giants to keep building their defense from the middle of the line out.

Andrew Thomas and Xavier McKinney too. Thomas will be eligible for an extension starting this offseason. Why wait to lock down the best player on the roster? Schoen can use a chunk of that $75 million to front-load a Thomas extension, keeping his cap numbers manageable so the Giants have more maneuverability in a few years, when they hopefully have more quality players to pay. Thomas is slated to only earn a $1-million base salary in 2023: he'll listen to an offer full of immediate new money, even if it doesn't reshape the left tackle market.

The last paragraph also applies to McKinney, but at lower prices.

Bargain-shop the back-end free agents. Players such as Richie James and Xavier Oshimes are worth low-cost tender offers. One of the benefits of remaining competitive is that Daboll and Schoen know who is really with the program and can spend their spare change wisely. It's hard to evaluate the back half of the roster during a Looney Tunes season.

Dip a toe into free agency. A typical wild-card-level team can usually justify signing a big-name/big-money veteran or two. The Giants cannot, especially in a free-agent class that lacks a prime-career, blue-chip cornerback, edge, or wide receiver. Cornerback Byron Murphy would be the Giants' best free-agent target based on the current market, and plenty of other suitors will line up if the Cardinals do something foolish like let Murphy walk. (Which they will, so they can spend their money on Julio Jones or something.)

The best young receiver on the current market might actually be Slayton, which explains why the Giants should spend so much cap space in-house. The free-agent class will look much better once cap-strapped teams begin cost-cutting, but the Giants should not spend big bucks on anyone unless he is under 27 years old and plays a high-leverage position. Come to think of it, that's sound advice for just about every team.

The Giants had two "false positive" seasons in the last decade. They overreacted to a 10-6 season in 2016, added wide receiver Brandon Marshall and extended the Eli Manning window, essentially plunging them into the rut that they are still mired in. Then Dave Gettleman pretended that a 6-10 finish in 2020 was a sign that they were budding Super Bowl contenders and began tossing satchels of money out of helicopters, turning the rut into the canyon Daboll/Schoen are pulling the franchise out of.

This season looks a lot like that 2016 season. It's a sign the organization is doing some things right and some young players are on the right track. It should not be interpreted as a reason to shift into Win Now mode. Fortunately, the fellas who run the team almost certainly realize that.

The New York Giants and the 2023 Draft

Best available athlete at wide receiver/cornerback/edge in the first round, unless Schoen and Daboll are in lust with one of the second-tier quarterbacks.

A guard or center, a linebacker, and maybe a Barkley successor in Day 2, when the Giants have three picks.

A Bailey Zappe/Brock Purdy lottery ticket on Day 3, plus depth everywhere.

The end. Walkthrough refuses to start fiddling with a mock draft simulator before Christmas.

What the Giants Should Do at Quarterback

No clue. But the following all sound like terrible ideas:

  • Retaining Jones. It's unlikely to happen and sends the wrong message about the team's rebuilding timetable.
  • Trading up for C.J. Stroud or Bryce Young. It will cost too many picks. The Giants have too many needs.
  • Getting into a bidding war for Jimmy Garoppolo or (if released) Derek Carr. The sentence is its own explanation.
  • Pretending Lamar Jackson will be available or Tom Brady is a realistic option. This ain't Giants fanfic.
  • Sam Darnold-like reclamation projects. Might as well just keep Jones.
  • Trey Lance? Heh … that sounds more like a Commanders sort of deal.

Now that the sexy options have been eliminated, there's:

  • The Return of Geno Smith. Intriguing at the right price, which Walkthrough wrote about a few weeks ago. Lots of folks at the time figured that Smith had earned a Ryan Tannehill contract. The dude who signed Tannehill to that contract just got fired.
  • Anthony Richardson, Will Levis, etc. We're way behind on our draft prep. Sorry. As listed above, if Schoen and Daboll love any rookie quarterback likely to be within a few spots of where they draft, they should do their thing.
  • Tyler Heinicke-tier bridge options. Jacoby Brissett or Gardner Minshew fall into this range. There's some logic to the Commanders and Giants swapping Jones and Heinicke (resetting expectations, possibly saving some cash) while figuring out their next steps at quarterback, or the Giants kicking Minshew's tires while Jones leaves to become Jalen Hurts' fleet-footed backup.

Yuck. Unless Daboll gets Josh Allen vibes from Richardson (and about six other teams don't get those vibes), none of these options sound appealing. This predicament was created by success. Perhaps we should set the future aside for a moment and celebrate that success.

The New York Giants and the Joy of Adequacy

Some Giants fans visited Walkthrough's preferred South Jersey tavern one NFL Sunday early in the year, had a bit too much to drink, lapsed into goblin mode, and began stirring up trouble after a victory. "This is the Giants' year, buddy," one said, blowing a .25 breathalyzer into Walkthrough's face. The bartender 86'd them a few minutes later, mostly for their own safety.

Those Giants fans were nowhere to be found when the Eagles pasted their team on Sunday, but that's not the point. The point is that it's fun to get a little tipsy after a few victories and dream big. That was one of last week's Walkthrough talking points: the Faustian bargain of one Super Bowl for nine guaranteed last-place finishes. Giants fans just experienced something close to that. No wonder a few of them were willing to risk a parking-lot curb-stomping over some September sunshine! What looks like wild-card noodling to a Packers or Patriots fan is enough to make Giants fans briefly, joyously delirious.

The Packers comeback, the Ravens comeback, the Jaguars comeback: they were unforgettable moments for fans and made Sundays unpredictable and fun for all of us. Talk of an Odell Beckham return? Visions of sugarplums! A Sunday night rematch with the Commanders in mid-December which actually has playoff implications? A chance to visit a truly vulnerable division champion like the Buccaneers or Vikings and swipe a playoff win? Who is the FIEND writing all of this off as just a meaningless prelude to an offseason of questions and tempered expectations?

Oops. It's me. Sorry. The Giants shouldn't hold a parade for a playoff berth, but their fans should pour some shots and scream their heads off. Just not at P.J.'s, fellas.

Daboll has won a bunch of games while Schoen has cleared $51 million in death-by-Gettleman money off the books in 2022. That's like a pair of frugal parents pulling the family out of deep debt while still buying some holiday presents and taking the kids to all the superhero movies.

East Rutherford is now an appealing destination to both free agents and current players seeking extensions: someone like Lawrence/Williams/Thomas is more likely to stick around than they ever would have been if the previous regime was still in charge.

The Giants accomplished a lot this season. There's still a lot of this season for them to play. And whatever they chose to do come the offseason will be relevant and significant, not just to fans but to the NFC East/NFL balance of power. It hasn't felt that way in years, and that's an accomplishment in its own right.


39 comments, Last at 21 Dec 2022, 4:39am

#1 by Pat // Dec 16, 2022 - 10:33am

This article was hilarious. Massive effort into minor minutiae of the Giants roster ("you'll be fine, Giants, if you give low-value RFA offers to some of your guys!") and then when Mike gets to the QB1 question, we get:

Yuck. [..] Perhaps we should set the future aside for a moment and celebrate that success.

Totally the equivalent of spending 3 hours putting all the sides together for dinner, and then saying 'eff it' and ordering pizza for the main dish.

Points: 7

#5 by whocares4 // Dec 16, 2022 - 12:54pm

What do you think they should do? To me, it seems like one of the few genuinely unresolvable QB situations in the league where's so much downside to every answer and so little upside. The prudent answers all seem to be "get set up for a *real* rebuild with the longterm answer at QB in 2024." But how will fans respond if they go 7-10 or something like that next year? Then your rebuild year is simultaneously a "coach on the hotseat" year which is reliable recipe for disaster.

(I kinda feel like they should trust that Daboll is a good coach and go QB in the 1st or 2nd round even if they only get the 5th or 6th best prospect. I really think Daboll can develop a guy and they shouldn't be afraid to do it with someone who isn't a "can't miss" prospect.)

Points: 1

#9 by Pat // Dec 16, 2022 - 1:50pm

I think you kinda-sorta do what the Steelers did. Now, to be clear, saying something like that is pretty much anathema here because there's like, massive Steelers hate or something for (gasp) being a mediocre team a year after losing a long-time QB and losing $30M+ in player value in week 1, and everyone goes "my god why did you sign Trubisky for what this other team we fawn over signed a special teams dude for." Once the Steelers lost TJ Watt the season was toast - the fact that they came within a blocked field goal of beating the Ravens and actually being in the wildcard race is just nuts. The Steelers took a couple of low risk, no commitment options and focused on the best parts of the team. 

So basically Mike's third option: either Brissett or Minshew as a very-short term option plus trying to boost your '24 pick to really go for it there. Assuming you don't like the QBs that are around where you are in the draft, which they really should do anyway.

I kinda feel like they should trust that Daboll is a good coach and go QB in the 1st or 2nd round

Yeah, basically what I'm saying. Just depends on whether or not Daboll likes the guys there. Either Daboll really is a high-end coach and they'll muddle for a few years with a mid-range QB (kinda like what New England probably would've done without the Matt Patricia Experiment) before hopefully finding a solid one, or he's not and they collapse, in which case they have to replace him anyway.

Points: 1

#14 by Oncorhynchus // Dec 16, 2022 - 2:15pm

Daboll has gotten exceptionally lucky with The Narrative this year. So much of fan angst and grumbling (to the extent that trickles up owners) is defined by The Narrative. The Narrative is a lifeform that grows on sites like this one. It is a creature that feeds on and shits out expectations. Expectations for the Giants were exceptionally low this year - as a result of The Narrative's digestion of the Children of Gettleman (Jones, Barkley etc.) The Narrative has gifted Daboll a nice reservoir of good will this year. Enough so that he can survive 2 or 3 lean years. That's fortune twice over. He came to New Jersey borne on the wings of the Narrative of Josh Allen. He was worst QB pick of all time according to first-take Narrative but that early Narrative's usurpation gave birth to the Narrative of the genius of Beane, McDermott and Daboll. It's hard for me to see a 7 - 10 finish next year as a bad thing for Daboll. If anything the only strengthens the Narrative surrounding Daboll because expectations will once again be low next year.

Daboll's Narrative is a striking contrast to the Narrative of Josh McDaniels and the Las Vegas Raiders. They're an odd pair of siblings. Both are first-year head coaches (for their team - yes it ain't McDaniels' first dance). Both took over teams with rosters badly mismanaged by the previous regime. Both teams were somewhere between bad and mediocre last year and this year. But the Narrative is so wildly different in light of this years results. The Raiders point differential last year was -65 at the end of season, entering week 15 last year the Raiders point differential was -77 and they were 6-7. But they won their last 4 games by combined point differential of +12 (basically a field goal per game) and went to the playoffs. Then they signed Davante Adams and hired McDaniels. The stage for The Narrative was set.

The Raiders are 5-8 entering week 15 with a point differential of -5. The Narrative is that McDaniels is a disaster as a head coach, that the Raiders are underperforming, that this season is a disappointment and Derek Carr should be cut loose and the whole thing rebuilt including firing McDaniels.

It's crazy. These teams are in exact same tier of performance. But one coach is getting all the love of the Narrative (together with the coach of the 6-7 +4 PD Lions) and the other is getting his shit rocked. If it weren't for Nathaniel Hackett, McDaniels would be front runner for Anti-Coach of the Year. Don't get me wrong, McDaniels has made terrible decisions (see the Rams game), but its not like he's wasting a great roster (unlike the Broncos and the Bucs).

So yeah, the Narrative rules all. Daboll will be fine next year no matter how the Giants finish because expectations are almost certainly going to remain low. This year did not reset expectation - even if they somehow sneak into the playoffs. Maybe if they do something stupid like think they're only one high-priced WR away from competing the Narrative will change. But if they continue to manage expectations for a rebuild I think Daboll and the Narrative has earned some patience.  


Points: 3

#20 by mansteel // Dec 16, 2022 - 2:35pm

I certainly agree that narratives take on a life of their own and that they are often inaccurate. I also don't really disagree with your analysis of the Raiders last year and this, but you should understand that the Giants' coaching is night and day better than it was the last two years. Little things like route combinations: Jason Garrett's favorite third-down play: have four guys run to the sticks and turn around...every damn time, whereas the current offense is much more creative and mitigates issues like the interior OL by running a lot of play action, boots, moving pockets, zone read, etc. And the Giants' roster--including starters--is full of guys who should be on (and have been on, even this year) practice squads. So the narrative in this case is pretty accurate. If they had retained Joe Judge, they're drafting CJ Stroud next year. Instead, a win Sunday almost clinches them a playoff berth.

Points: 2

#31 by Aaron Brooks G… // Dec 16, 2022 - 4:27pm

McDaniel gets dinged because the Raiders were perceived as better than their metrics last year because of the sudden coaching change and their WR2 committing vehicular manslaughter.

Combined with a roster upgrade, last years performance this year was failure.

Points: 0

#37 by Pat // Dec 17, 2022 - 10:46am

McDaniel's also a second-time head coach, so he's still got the stench of Denver failure by default.

Points: 0

#32 by whocares4 // Dec 16, 2022 - 5:03pm

This is also my point: I think in year 3, the narrative becomes a problem for Daboll. I agree that next year, nothing will really happen to the narrative (the fans and owners will be patient so long as he doesn't bottom out and go like 3-14.) But in year 3, if he takes a rookie QB (finally) and they've let fan-favorite Saquon go and now they have something resembling a WR1, if in year three the rookie QB struggles and they get out to an 0-3 or 2-5 type start, then I think the narrative becomes "enough of this guy already, isn't he supposed to make an offense some kind of a juggernaut? what a fraud!" And then Daboll loses the ability to take his time, make circumspect decisions, continue to develop his young players and rebuild the team.

So while I agree with you about the current narrative, I also think it shifts quickly and that the Giants had better be really committed to his long-term if they decide to take a mulligan on 2023. Honestly, I think that's the best course of action, use next year as kind of a bridge year to a real rebuild and not get caught up in this year's success. But I have little confidence the narrative won't suddenly shift on Daboll. (Who, as an Eagles fan, has impressed me a huge amount.)

Points: 1

#35 by reddwarf // Dec 16, 2022 - 7:16pm

Speaking of narratives and Hackett, and speaking as a die-hard dyed orange Bronco fan, maybe the narrative that they have a talented roster overall held back by QB play and coaching should be questioned more?  It's an article of faith among the fanbase, and repeated endlessly by pundits, but there is increasingly little evidence for it.  On offense Sutton, Jeudy, and Hamler all have significant injury histories and are almost never on the field at the same time (and not just this season).  Even when they are out there only Sutton has had significant production.  Patrick is probably the most reliable but he's not likely to be an all-pro, and of course suffered a serious preseason injury we can only hope he comes back from.  Dulcich is such a liability as a blocker that his presence on the field tips off the defense it's a pass.  And he's the best of a lackluster at best group of TE's.  Javonte Williams was fun to watch bowling over people last year, but had one of the highest stuff rates because he seems incapable of seeing the actual hole (a problem that continued into the preseason and regular season before he was injured).  At least Gordon is finally gone.  On the offensive line Garrett Bolles is probably the best, and he's had one excellent season in his career plus a couple "adequate" and has otherwise been terrible.  Risner has gotten worse every season since his rookie year.  Cushenberry has been a disaster at center for 3 seasons.  Meinerz is again fun to watch as a road-grader, please just ignore his turnstile pass protection.  And right tackle has been a revolving door of inadequacy for years.

Defense?  Hmm.  Dremont Jones is always going to have his breakout year NEXT season.  DJ Jones has played really well in places this year, but seems to be wearing down badly.  Deshawn Williams is targeted by every opponent to run over because at run defense.  Chubb was having a good year before he was traded but it was only the second year of his career he hasn't been injured for most of it.  Gregory?  Injured, as usual.  Browning?  Promising, but this is his first year on the edge and he really struggles with the run as well.  Jewell and Singleton-solid in the middle.  Surtain is awesome (we will just ignore the two of last three games where he was absolutely torched, he has honestly been outstanding otherwise).  Darby is injured again, and K'waun Williams has missed time as well (another player with injury history) but performed well when in the lineup.  Kareem Jackson has lost too many steps and is a liability.  Simmons is irritatingly inconsistent this season and not playing up to his usual standard (I suspect he's trying to do far too much).  The defense has played very well this season, but they are not a dominant defense racking up sacks and turnovers, tilting the field, and scaring the opposing offense.  They tend to just stop them (until the end of games when suddenly you can drive on them) and are once again (like last year) helped by their opponents knowing they can play it cautious because they don't have to score a lot of points.

I'm not seeing a great roster that only lacks QB play to be a Super Bowl contender there.  Pretty much all of Paton's key free agent signings the last couple years have come with injury histories, and while there is some bad luck in that ALL of them have crapped out, you have to understand that availability is a pretty important piece as well.

This isn't meant to excuse the many failings of Wilson, Hackett, Lock, or Fangio.  And sorry to thread-jack.  But I increasingly believe that only 2013-era Manning would make this team a contender by pretty much single-handedly covering the inadequacies of the entire rest of the offensive lineup AND forcing the other team to take more risks against our defense, and the problems go far deeper than just the coach and QB.

Bah!  Humbug!

Points: 3

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Points: -5

#6 by coboney // Dec 16, 2022 - 12:58pm

Or you look at your options for the main dish and they are burnt turkey, and a frostburned ham. After looking at it all, you say frac it, we need more time to do something appropriate for the main so lets have the great sides and pizza and we'll pick up something tomorrow for New Years dinner

Let's celebrate what we have, plan tomorrow for next week, and not over comit to what is already there.

Points: 1

#10 by Pat // Dec 16, 2022 - 1:51pm

I will say the analogy didn't work great because side dishes are awesome.

Points: 4

#2 by theslothook // Dec 16, 2022 - 11:26am

It's rather sad, but a season like this could end up being ultimately counter productive. The Giants shouldn't sign saquon Barkley. They probably shouldn't sign Daniel Jones either. But there are many universes where both those guys get replaced by worse players and the Giants absolutely collapse next year. And then think about how the optics will look for Brian Dabol. That's the funny thing about all of this.

Laugh at Jones all you want, but the only thing stopping the Giants from being the Panthers is the fact that Jones isn't Sam Darnold. But still, as I mentioned once a while back, being better than Sam Darnold is tangibly something but it's on the whole not good enough.

I thought a lot about this when thinking about where Jared Goff should go next year. Depending on the contract figure, a player like Jared Goff or Daniel Jones really shouldn't be on anything but a really really good team that's a quarterback away. That's not the Giants.


Points: 2

#11 by JoelBarlow // Dec 16, 2022 - 1:54pm


They're 24th in DVOA. They won some weird games early in the year off of opponent missed chip shot field goals, two point conversions etc. 

The extent to which Daboll has even done a good job is... the bottom line is they're really not much better. The won some 1 score games and they got the 1 year in 3 three that Saquon is (mostly) healthy. 

Extremely likely that they're worse next year

Points: 0

#21 by Mike B. In Va // Dec 16, 2022 - 2:37pm

They are literally the same place Buffalo was after McDermott's first year, when they backed into the playoffs even though they weren't actually good. They are minus some of the cap hell - so Schoen is already ahead there. The question is: What will they be able to draft? Buffalo used a lot to move up, including trading players like Cordy Glenn that could have been considered "building blocks". I don't know enough about the QBs in the draft to make an evaluation of who they *could* get.

Points: 2

#24 by theslothook // Dec 16, 2022 - 3:11pm

To piggy back on this, I thought McDermott overachieved but I also remember the discourse around his tenure getting pretty nasty. Between Allen struggling his first two years and in particular the Nathan Peterman fiasco (which had some racial components to it), he felt like he was on borrowed time. 

You live through QB bust after QB bust and you wonder whats the point? Josh Allen is the point.

Points: 1

#33 by Mike B. In Va // Dec 16, 2022 - 5:13pm

The bad year was really bad, yes - and the national press tore the Peterman decision apart, but Taylor was traded correctly, IMO. Remember, though, even though Josh struggled in year two, the team still made the playoffs, so McD wasn't going anywhere.

Daboll should get that kind of window, but might not. The NYG ownership is unusually patient, though.

Points: 1

#3 by mehnsrea // Dec 16, 2022 - 11:27am

PJ’s Route 70? My old stomping grounds.

Points: 1

#4 by andrewmilne // Dec 16, 2022 - 12:30pm

There is a problem, and I think it is with agents and agent/manager relations. If Jones hits free agency, what kind of contract will he get? Is there a team that will offer him a longer-term starter contract at the current going rate? I seriously doubt it. Are there teams that will offer him a decent back-up quarterback contract? (Something in the Smith/Winston/Bridgewater $2-5 million/year range) That seems likely, but I don't think he would sign for more than two years if he believes he is a starter. Will someone offer a bigger one-year "prove it" kinda deal as a starter? They might, but then if it doesn't work they have lost a year, and if it does then they are where the Seahawks are, where it looks like you have solved your starting qb problem... except he isn't under contract.

The Giants SHOULD be able to sign Jones to one of the last two options, but I doubt they CAN. It always seems like the dynamics is situations like this is that the player takes a (worse) deal elsewhere that they would never take from their existing team.

I'd let him test the market and let that set his value, and hope you can do so without damaging his relationship with the team. But that may not be possible.

I THINK there is a slim chance that Jones is so team-minded that he signs something in the 3 year/ $15-20 million per range. Which might actually make sense for both sides.

Points: 2

#13 by mansteel // Dec 16, 2022 - 2:11pm

In the absence of better options, your last sentence is my hope as a Giants fan. It's possible that Jones accepts that sort of deal because he realizes that working with Daboll/Kafka is his best chance for success. He's certainly seen the other side of things...I wonder if he's called Mac Jones to offer him a shoulder to cry on.

But the most optimistic scenario for me is picking up a second-tier guy in the draft and having him pan out after a year or two.

Points: 0

#15 by mehnsrea // Dec 16, 2022 - 2:17pm

Is there a team that will offer him a longer-term starter contract at the current going rate? I seriously doubt it.

Have you looked around the league? These guys get recycled more than my mother-in-law’s aluminium foil. Jones is as good or better than all of the following: Mac Jones, Zach Wilson, whoever Pittsburgh starts, whoever Houston starts, Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson, Taylor Heinicke/Wentz, Justin Fields, every QB in the NFC South except for Brady, every current starter in the NFC West. That’s at least 15-16 guys, making Jones top 50%. 

Im no Giants fan. But I’ve seen Jones play quite a bit and while he’s not great, he’s decent with good potential. That gets you a contract. I’m f the Giants don’t give it, some other team will. He desperately needs a good offensive coach and leadership structure. Not sure he has that now.

Points: 1

#22 by Pat // Dec 16, 2022 - 2:47pm

Have you looked around the league? These guys get recycled more than my mother-in-law’s aluminium foil.

They get recycled for basically no money.

  • Trubisky: ~$6M
  • Mariota: ~$6.75M
  • Dalton: ~$3M
  • Winston (in 2020): ~$1.1M
  • Brissett: ~$4.5M

The QB market in the NFL is basically either backup (sub-10M) or starter (30M+). There are extremely few players who are in the middle, and there's usually a reason for it. Like, Matt Ryan's $18M because the Colts just are carrying his salary and the Falcons his proration, or Winston's $14M because he "kinda" provide himself on a cheaper deal but not quite, and Darnold's $18M because he's at the fifth-year option.

No way in the world someone's going to give Daniel Jones $30M+, and "15-20M/yr" opportunities are very few and far between.

Points: 1

#23 by mehnsrea // Dec 16, 2022 - 2:57pm

I didn’t say he’d get $30M. I said he’d get a contract worth more than your ridiculous suggestion. The players union wouldn’t even allow your suggestion. He makes $6.4M now! If you’re a tier 3 middle rung starter (which I contend he is), you make $15-$18M a year. Don’t be mad. I’m jealous too. But he is that guy.  

Points: -1

#25 by Pat // Dec 16, 2022 - 3:23pm

The players union wouldn’t even allow your suggestion. He makes $6.4M now!

What the heck are you talking about? Of course players can take less than they currently make. Their contracts don't have to increase every year or anything (edit: through free agency, I mean).

If you’re a tier 3 middle rung starter (which I contend he is), you make $15-$18M a year. 

Like I said, the only NFL QB who's signed a free-agency contract close to that is Jameis Winston, and it's actually slightly under it. I don't know who the "tier 3 middle rung starters" you're talking about are, but none of them signed a free agency contract with an AAV of 15-18M/yr.

This isn't a hard game to play. Go to OTC's QB contract page, and scroll down for green active contracts. You'll see Ryan Tannehill at around $30M, then Tom Brady at $25M (who's obviously a special case)... and then a vast gulf until you hit Jameis Winston (Mayfield's is his 5th year rookie option, that's not a free agent contract), and then it's nothing but rookies and backups.

Points: 4

#36 by andrewmilne // Dec 17, 2022 - 9:40am

This exactly. There is this yawning gap in the salary structure that should not exist. There is “reclamation project/you might be toast but we’ll gamble/possible back-up or transition qb” territory and there is “we pay you so much money we have to be lucky to win cos the salary cap makes it hard to pay anyone else who is really good” territory. Jones is good enough to win with IF you can afford other players, but NOT if you are paying him a huge chunk of your cap 

Points: 1

#38 by Pat // Dec 17, 2022 - 11:00am

There really aren't many QBs who are so expensive they cause problems: Rodgers, Prescott, Watson, probably. The other guys look big, but it's contract theater: quoting the AAV of an *extension* when it occurs multiple years in the future and is spread over additional years and comparing that to a straight contract makes no sense.

$30M is under 15% of the cap next year. By '26 it'll be under 10%. It's just not that much money anymore in the NFL.

But yeah, the NFL has QB starters at $30M and backups at around $5M. Jones might get a 1-2 yr deal to "compete" like Trubisky did, but it'll be a backup scale deal, and realistically it's "hey want to get smacked around until our rookie's good enough to not die out there?"

Points: 1

#12 by mansteel // Dec 16, 2022 - 2:05pm

Very impressive analysis, Mike. As an all-22 watcher of (some) Giants games I agree with most everything you wrote. Two quibbles:

(1) I think Jones is better than you give him credit for; he's been throwing to his preseason WR6 and literal practice squad guys behind a line whose C and both Gs need replacing (and whose RT hasn't been very good either). He's mobile, his arm is fairly good, his ball placement his good, and he's cut way down on mistakes. However, he still doesn't throw with anticipation very well and is too reluctant to throw the ball down the field. 

(2) Slayton, the aforementioned WR6, is not starter quality. He has speed, but he also has the 2nd-worst drop % in the NFL. His misjudgment of a late bomb against WAS two weeks ago--he slowed down and tried to high-point a ball he should have just run through since he there was no defender to contest the ball--probably cost the Giants a win.

The thing I liked most was the way you pointed out that the season is its own reward: watching the Ravens comeback with my brother in a DC Biergarten, watching them beat the Packers over brunch with my dad, almost losing my mind when they almost blew the Jax game, being nervous about a high-stakes December game this, so, so much better than most of the last decade, even if it does end up with no playoffs or a wild-card loss to SF in which we score negative points for the first time NFL history.

Points: 0

#16 by Oncorhynchus // Dec 16, 2022 - 2:20pm

I think the answer is that the Giants trade for Jordan Love. There's your day 2 or 3 pick for a decent QB prospect. If you're paying somebody second- or third-tier second-contract QB money, might as well make it one with potentially more upside than Jones. 

Also the bonus in that scenario is that we get a Love-Hurts game twice a year.

Points: 5

#19 by ImNewAroundThe… // Dec 16, 2022 - 2:33pm

Jordan Love for a 2nd and 2 7ths? Deal? Send it in!

Points: -1

#39 by Spanosian Magn… // Dec 17, 2022 - 12:48pm


Although I could see a bidding war breaking out; this looks to be a kind of weird offseason in that there are an abnormal number of contender-ish teams that need a solution at QB for both the short- and long-term but likely won't be in position to draft one: NYG, NYJ, WAS, NO obviously, and dark horses LAR, NE, MIA (and potentially LV, BAL, TB depending what happens with their QBs). If the market gets really wacky (like, at the high end I could see multiple 1st-round picks for Love or Lance or maybe even Purdy; and/or Jimmy G getting nine figures guaranteed in a FA contract - obviously SF will keep at least one of those guys, but that just squeezes supply even further), Jones on a one-year deal makes a pretty good BATNA - for NYG or someone else.

The MLB offseason has been kind of insane so far, and I have high hopes the NFL's will be comparably entertaining.

Points: -1

#17 by dan5374 // Dec 16, 2022 - 2:24pm

My $.02: I don't think the assessment of Slayton is accurate. He is a good option for beating guys horizontally but he does not track the deep ball well or catch when he isn't facing the quarterback. He is not a legitimate deep threat at this stage of his career, notwithstanding a play or two here or there.

So... yeah, can be a useful depth piece, but he's not a WR2. Hodgins is more likely to contribute to the Giants in 2023 than Slayton.

Points: 0

#18 by ImNewAroundThe… // Dec 16, 2022 - 2:25pm

Let Jones go. Let Tyrod be the bridge for up to 6 games. Maybe tag Saquon for morale or whatever culture. Draft a Malik Willis* not Zappe/Purdy if you don't draft one early. Accept there may be lumps and you may be worse for a year. 

No need for a pointless Trubisky/Mariota/Dalton signing.

Points: 3

#26 by Pat // Dec 16, 2022 - 3:27pm

Yeah, I will say Mike left off "just go with Tyrod Taylor for a year" which might be the best option. He's already gonna cost you $5M+ next year no matter what.

If they don't keep Jones around they'll probably need to sign someone else, but it'd likely be more in the min vet salary range rather than anything else. Assuming Taylor actually wants to start - if not you might have to sign an equivalent as well.

Points: 3

#40 by ImNewAroundThe… // Dec 17, 2022 - 5:50pm

At least $2.8m dead (if traded). No need for anyone else outside a rookie draft choice (early, mid or late). Charlie Whitehurst min contract type to be a placeholder is all for the offseason. Of course Taylor would want to start. Or he can stay on the bench behind a rookie contract. 

Points: 0

#30 by Stendhal1 // Dec 16, 2022 - 4:13pm

Julio Jones to the Cardinals is priceless.  Well played Mr. Tanier, well played.

Points: 0

#41 by zxr611 // Dec 20, 2022 - 4:28pm

If you're actually watching the Giants, you know this article nails their current situation. It also offers the pragmatic solution that they need.  Makes we wonder why more GM's haven't figured this approach out.  Coaching staff is working with what they have with an eye on establishing financial freedom in the future.  There is no doubt that 2022 is an overachievement, or that Jones, Barkley, and the rest of the roster are benefitting from the system they are in. These players under lesser leadership, would definitely be the 3-4 win team many expected this year.    

This team isn't going anywhere in the playoffs (if they make it) but an honest assessment of what's on the roster tells you they shouldn't.  Barkley has proven he is a top talent, but their window to win him at a reasonable cost is likely closed. Jones meanwhile hasn't shown the skills to justify a long term high $ deal. This coaching staff can likely scheme to another replacement level QB's talent without much drop off which buys them time to develop someone else.  They should let Jones test FA market, then try to bring him back for a couple years at a number below the $30M qualifying estimate.  If they build the line in front and the talent around him, he's good enough to make them competitive on a weekly basis.


Points: 0

#42 by jodoy7256 // Dec 21, 2022 - 4:39am

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Points: 0

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