It's hard to believe we wasted time discussing Daniel Jones’ contract situation whether it was on sports radio, Twitter or in the newspapers.
It was going to be figured out one way or another. The Giants, especially Giants co-owner John Mara, have so much invested in the Giants quarterback. It was then-Giants general manager Dave Gettleman and Mara who drafted Jones because he had Eli Manning’s mannerisms and throwing ability.
The Giants and Jones reached an agreement minutes before the 4:00 p.m. franchise tag deadline on Tuesday. The NFL Network insiders Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport reported that the Giants quarterback had agreed to a four-year, $160 million deal with $35 million more in additional incentives, according to the NFL Network. He will get $82 million in guaranteed money and $12 million more in “practical” guarantees he is very likely to earn. He also gets a signing bonus of $36 million. His base salaries of $9.5 million in 2023 and $35.5 million in 2024 are both fully guaranteed.
Here’s what is crazy about his deal: he could get a new contract after the 2025 season if he plays well or he could be released after three years if he plays badly.
Whether he is worth the contract or not is beside the point. What matters here is Mara wants Jones to be what Manning was to the late Wellington Mara, who invested a lot in him when the Giants traded draft picks to get their guy in 2004.
Jones becomes the younger Mara’s legacy for good or bad.
The jury is still out on whether the Giants' quarterback is elite. His ceiling so far has been serviceable, but this is not going to cut it if the Giants have visions of adding more Lombardi trophies to their collection.
Jones needs to start beating the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles, for starters. He has to be the driver, not the passenger. He won’t get another new deal if he keeps coming up short. It has to begin this coming season. The fans are going to demand that it starts happening.
He has to have the Giants in contention to win the division year in and year out now that he’s been rewarded for a good season this past year. He played well down the stretch and led the Giants to the playoffs, and most importantly, won a playoff game. He needs to build off of that.
Jones has to improve his primetime record, which is 1-9. Yes, we tend to overreact to stuff like that, but this is where it has to be better in the sense he is playing against tough competition in primetime games. He needs to learn how to beat elite teams. He has yet to do that in his career.
As great as that playoff win against the Minnesota Vikings was, let’s remember no one confused the Vikings with a Super Bowl contender. In fact, the Giants were a trendy pick to beat them.
When the Giants played the Philadelphia Eagles in their 38-7 divisional playoff loss, it served as a reality check for the Giants quarterback. When the Eagles took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, the Giants turned the ball over on downs on its first possession and ex-Giant James Bradberry intercepted Jones on the Giants’ second possession. It was a poor response by the quarterback after the Eagles struck twice in that quarter. He offered nothing by throwing for 135 yards with an interception that night.
We can write that off, but sooner or later, he has to deliver. This is where he is going to be judged, and he knows this as much as anyone.
Mara rewarded Jones for a fine season with the promise that it’s going to get even better. Of all the Giants setup, the owner most needs this to work out of all the Giants since it was his project from day one.
It will be interesting to see what Jones does during the next two seasons. Is there more to where this came from or was this season the best, they are going to get from him?
Giants general manager Joe Schoen only knows him for one season, and it’s hard to believe he was this crazy about giving him this deal, even if Jones is really not making $40 million a year. If he truly believed in him, why didn’t he receive an extension or get his option picked up last season? He probably doesn’t even know what he has in his quarterback in the long-term.
Same can be said for Giants head coach Brian Daboll, who did a great job tapping Jones’ talent this season.
It didn’t matter what Schoen and Daboll thought, only Mara’s voice mattered in this situation.
This deal was going to be done because the Giants owner wanted it to happen. He does not have the stomach to go watch another project at quarterback such as this year’s draft pick Anthony Richardson. He wanted to go with the guy he knows.
Fair or not, Jones’ play will define Schoen and Daboll. It’s on Schoen to make it work by drafting the right personnel that can put the Giants quarterback in a position to succeed. It’s on Daboll to continue to get results out of his quarterback.
Now, we get to find out what Jones does this coming season.
Of all the guys who have a vested interest, it’s Mara since it’s his guy for better or for worse.
You can read Leslie's Jersey Sporting News columns on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
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