Daniel Jones’ contract is bad, but here’s why it won’t doom the Giants

The Giants’ desperate re-signing of Daniel Jones this past offseason was a move based on hope, rather than being couched in reality. New York assumed they were on the upswing under Brian Daboll, and that while Jones was far from perfect, he was significantly better than any alternate option at the time.

Nine weeks in that’s all collapsed. With news on Monday that Jones’ season is over with a torn ACL the team has to examine its QB position moving forward, and that’s independent of the injury itself. Jones has been the worst starting quarterback in the NFL by a rather significant margin this season, with both his passer rating and yards-per-attempt lagging behind Zach Wilson of the Jets and the Titans’ Ryan Tannehill — not to mention his two touchdowns and six interception this season.

When you have a quarterback on a brand new contract with a cap hit of over $40M a year performing this poorly it’s tempting to think it spells future disaster for the organization, but in reality the Giants aren’t in a bad spot at all.

Jones signed a 4 year, $160M extension in March with $92M of the contract guaranteed. Notably it included an out after the 2024 season. The Giants frontloaded Jones’ contract so if they release him ahead of the 2025 season they would only have a dead cap figure of $22.2M.

This is important, because it leaves the door open for the Giants to draft a quarterback in 2024, pay him under the rookie pay scale, and either start Jones’ in his final season, or have him serve as a mentor quarterback. Then as 2025 rolls around the team can cut Jones, and actually reduce their cap number at the QB position, even accounting for the dead cap.

As it stands the 2-7 Giants would have the No. 4 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, but that’s a little deceptive. With Tyrod Taylor still on IR and a rough eight games remaining this season it’s extremely likely they’ll finish with a higher draft pick. Most importantly the Bears and Panthers play each other in Week 10, two teams ahead of them in draft order — which means if Chicago wins they’ll be at three wins, and if Carolina wins they’ll be on par with New York.

The Bears hold both those picks, and while they’re almost assured to take a quarterback with one of them, the other is open. Factor in Arizona as well, who currently hold the No. 1 pick in 2024, and they’re more inclined to give Kyler Murray a little more time, rather than draft a QB.

Tea leaves are starting to swirl in such a way where Caleb Williams could very much land in New York’s lap on draft night. There’s a long way to go before April, but teams are beginning to favor UNC’s Drake Maye over Williams for his ability to play in structure and have more immediately translatable skills. There’s little doubt Williams has more upside, but it’s not as pronounced a difference as we’ve seen from ceiling vs. floor QB arguments in the past.

Caleb Williams checks a lot of boxes for the Giants, more than Maye does in fact. The injury to Daniel Jones is definitely a shame, but with the 2023 season in tatters it really could lead to a massive rebound in the future.

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