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Key Giants’ Starter Gives Cryptic Answer About His Future

A third-straight defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles ended the New York Giants’ remarkable season on Saturday, January 21. Attention now turns to the futures of key free agents like quarterback Daniel Jones, running back Saquon Barkley and free safety Julian Love.

Jones wasn’t ready to offer any clarity about what comes next when quizzed by reporters following the Giants’ 38-7 loss at Lincoln Financial Field in the Divisional Round of the Playoffs. If anything, the 25-year-old sounded like he was already thinking about the Giants as part of his past, per Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News:

“… We’ll figure out where that goes, but I have nothing but love and respect for this organization and the guys in the locker room.” #Giants

Interesting

— Pat Leonard (@PLeonardNYDN) January 22, 2023

Jones’ reluctance to sound a more optimistic note about remaining a Giant didn’t go unnoticed. There was nothing definitive, according to the New York Post’s Ian O’Connor:

Daniel Jones was asked twice if he wants to be the Giants quarterback next year, and he didn’t say “Yes” either time. “We’ll get into that down the road…We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.” He did express his love for teammates & the organization.

— Ian O’Connor (@Ian_OConnor) January 22, 2023

The Giants rode Jones’ transformation from a quarterback who appeared destined for the exit door, into a productive starter, all the way to the postseason. With so much focus on how much he improved, it became easy to forget the dilemma facing both Jones and the Giants regarding his next move.

Giants’ Decision Not Clear Cut

Jones’ less than transparent statement about his future needn’t mean he’s done as a Giant. Not according to northjersey.com’s Art Stapleton:

Saquon Barkley is an open book. Daniel Jones is Fort Knox when it comes to letting anyone in.

Just keep that in mind when weighing post-game comments tonight.

A lot still to be determined for their futures, and that of the Giants.

— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) January 22, 2023

Stapleton’s reference to Barkley is telling because the running back’s next contract is one of the main issues facing the Giants. General manager Joe Schoen can make Barkley the highest-paid player at his position in the NFL, but that would put No. 26 in a bracket similar to Christian McCaffrey of the San Francisco 49ers, who earns $16,015,853 a year, per Over The Cap.

Handing Barkley that type of money would make it tougher to keep Jones. Especially if the Giants want to franchise tag their QB1, a ploy projected to cost $32,445,000.

Schoen has the money, as much as $52,506,480, according to Spotrac.com. Yet, the figure will soon dwindle if the Giants bring back Jones and Barkley, who are far from the only key players Schoen needs to retain.

Some of the more notable names listed by ESPN’s Adam Schefter include Love and productive wide receivers Darius Slayton and Richie James:

Giants’ key Unrestricted Free Agents this winter: QB Daniel Jones, RB Saquon Barkley, WR Sterling Shepard, DB Julian Love, WR Darius Slayton, WR Sterling Shepard, WR Richie James, OL Jon Feliciano, OL Nick Gates, CB Fabian Moreau, DE Oshane Ximines.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 22, 2023

Replacing a competent starting quarterback is never easy, but Jones will only go as far as his supporting cast takes him. Keeping No. 8 but losing the talent around him would prevent the Giants from making more progress beyond this season.

The trick will be somehow keeping Jones while still adding to the weapons at his disposal.

Giants Need Help at Multiple Spots Around QB

Jones exceeded expectations after the Giants declined his fifth-year option, but the signal-caller still needs things to help him get better. Things like a top-notch wideout or two and better protection up front.

Those are the things other quarterbacks who’ve taken huge steps forward have been equipped with, according to former NFL starter Robert Griffin III. He used Eagles’ star Jalen Hurts and Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills as examples:

Josh Allen and Jalen Hurts made a HUGE JUMP in their QB play in YEAR 3 after they got Stefon Diggs and AJ Brown as their #1 WRs. If the Giants are serious about Daniel Jones in YEAR 5 getting a BONAFIDE #1 WR is the ONLY WAY to continue his growth and unlock his full potential.

— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) January 22, 2023

Any receiver search may not come to fruition through free agency when the veteran class includes more complementary pass-catchers than premier playmakers. Juju Smith-Schuster of the Kansas City Chiefs and Jakobi Meyers of the New England Patriots would be the kind of possession targets Jones has thrived throwing to this season, but the Giants are better served using the 2023 NFL draft to find a true field-stretcher.

Finding a legitimate playmaker on the outside is only one piece of the puzzle. The Giants also need to beef up an offensive line that surrendered five sacks in Philadelphia.

Ultimately, the Giants’ priorities this offseason will depend on whether they think they need Jones to win. Or if head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka believe they can work the same kind of magic for another quarterback they used to transform Jones this season.

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