The New York Giants anointed Daniel Jones as their quarterback of the future in early March with a four-year, $160 million contract extension. While Jones led the Giants to a 9-6-1 record and their first playoff appearance since 2016, a whopping 20 signal-callers threw more touchdown passes than Danny Dimes a year ago.
The sixth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Jones tossed an unimpressive 15 scoring passes in 2022 and has just 60 touchdown throws in 53 career starts. The former Duke standout has also posted 57 turnovers - 23 fumbles and 34 interceptions - and has led the league in fumbles twice. Jones acknowledged that expectations will be high now that he has inked a franchise quarterback-style deal.
"I've always felt that responsibility," Jones said less than 24 hours after signing his new contract. "Playing this position, especially for a team like the New York Giants and this city, you have that responsibility. I take that very seriously.
"It certainly doesn't change. I certainly do feel that, and it's my goal to earn that every day and in the offseason while we're preparing for the season, and then when we get to the season, you know, doing my best and preparing this team to win games and me to put us in a position to that. So, yeah -- I take that responsibility very seriously."
Six of the Giants' nine wins last season came against teams that finished the regular season with sub-.500 records. And eight of New York's victories were by a margin of eight points or less. The G-Men did not make the playoffs because of Jones. They advanced to the postseason despite Jones being under center.
Jones sputtered in a lopsided 38-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the second round of the playoffs. The 26-year-old completed 15 of 27 passes for 135 yards and one interception. During the regular season, the Giants won just two of eight games against playoff-bound teams, and Jones threw for 228 yards or fewer in 14 outings.
New York shocked the NFL by selecting Jones with a top 10 pick, and it was one of the least-popular draft-day moves in team history. While the North Carolina native has developed into a dual threat who rushed for 708 yards and seven touchdowns last season, Jones has not yet proven to be an above-average starter.
"He was just perfect for us," said former New York General manager Dave Gettleman. "We really believe in this kid and really believe he is going to be a real quality quarterback for our franchise."
Gettleman retired following the 2021 season and compiled a lackluster 19–46 (.292) record over four seasons calling the shots for the Giants. In the 2018 NFL Draft, Gettleman took Penn State running back Saquon Barkley with the second overall pick and passed off quarterbacks Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson.
Rookie head coach Brian Daboll did a masterful job a year ago to limit Jones' penchant for turnovers. The former Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator used a deep mix of short passes and zone-read option runs to hide the deficiencies of his turnover-prone quarterback.
New York's low-risk offense was built around Barkely, who garnered a career-high 1,312 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. The talented running back also caught 57 passes for 338 yards. Combined with a defensive unit that limited nine opponents to 20 or fewer points, the Giants capitalized on a weak schedule to advance to the playoffs.
While more than a few people around the league do not believe Jones is a $40 million a year quarterback, Giants General Manager Joe Schoen believes the fifth-year field general is capable of leading New York to a Super Bowl title.
"Yeah, that's the goal. Everybody's goal is to win a Super Bowl. I think Daniel played well in his rookie year. He played well for us this past year. I think the coaching staff has confidence in him. As an organization, we have confidence in him. We're going to continue to build the team around him. That's the ultimate goal.
We can't worry about what people are saying outside the building. All we care about is inside these walls. And we've got a very talented, experienced coaching staff and a very talented personnel staff, I believe. And what matters is what we think inside this building," added Schoen. "That's how we're always going to make decisions. We're not going to worry about the outside noise. And we're going to be convicted for what we're doing. It's a well-thought-out process, and we're happy with the decision that we made. And we're happy to move forward with Daniel."
The Giants' offense was effective last season, using a variety of quarterback keepers, screen passes to Barkley, and wildcat plays to move the chains. But how long can New York's low-powered, vanilla offense thrive in a pass-happy league that favors high-scoring matchups?
The league is stocked with an array of young, talented signal-callers like Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, Jalen Hurts, Trevor Lawrence, and Justin Herbert. Although he is being paid as an elite passer, Jones is not even close to being a franchise-caliber quarterback.
New York is likely to regret rewarding Jones with a mega-contract for a career year that is full of red flags. The Eagles paid dearly for signing Carson Wentz to a hefty extension but were smart enough to draft Hurts once Wentz began his downward spiral. The Giants would be wise to draft an insurance plan at quarterback too.
With the uncertainty surrounding Daniel Jones' performance and the Giants' offensive approach, NFL betting enthusiasts are keeping a close eye on how this mega-contract will impact the team's future prospects. The league's stocked talent of young, promising quarterbacks has raised questions about Jones' ability to lead the team to success.
For NFL bettors, the situation presents an intriguing prospect: Will Jones rise to the occasion and prove himself as an elite quarterback, or will the Giants be forced to reassess their strategy? As the 2023 season unfolds, the stakes are high, not just on the field, but in the world of NFL betting.