QB Notes: Giants, Geno, Watson, Pats, Jets

After a frenzied run-up to the franchise tag deadline, the Giants have been a bit quieter leading up to free agency. The team’s top business is complete, though they will also be prepared to add talent next week and try to negotiate a Saquon Barkley extension before the July deadline. The Giants’ top contract is done, however, with Daniel Jones agreeing to a four-year, $160MM deal. That contract includes $82MM fully guaranteed — eighth among QBs — and both his 2023 and 2024 base salaries ($9.5MM, $35.5MM) are fully guaranteed, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes. Most of Jones’ 2025 base ($30MM) is guaranteed for injury at signing, but it does not become fully guaranteed until the 2025 league year. Rather than a year-out vesting date, Jones’ 2025 guarantees not vesting until that point gives the team an out barring injury. Jones’ $46MM 2026 base salary is nonguaranteed, Florio adds.

Although the nonguaranteed 2026 money more accurately tabs this deal as a three-year, $112.5MM pact, the Giants would be on the hook for just $18MM in dead money were they to shed it from their payroll in 2025. Here is the latest from the QB ranks:

  • The Seahawks look to have convinced Geno Smith to accept a “prove it” contract, albeit on a major raise. Initially reported as a three-year, $105MM pact, Smith’s deal includes full guarantees ($27.3MM) that only stretch through 2023. An additional $12.7MM is guaranteed for injury until February, when NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo notes (on Twitter) it shifts to a full guarantee. That gives the Seahawks additional time to evaluate Smith, who surprised most with his 2022 performance. Smith’s guarantee consists of a $26.1MM signing bonus and a $1.2MM base salary in 2023, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. The Seahawks could designate Smith as a post-June 1 cut in 2024 and be charged with just $8.7MM in dead money. Pete Carroll has spoken of the possibility the Seahawks could take a quarterback at No. 5. While the trade-down-happy team may be trying to create a market for the pick, the Smith details point to the team’s QB situation not being settled beyond 2023.
  • Browns GM Andrew Berry discussed the possibility of a Deshaun Watson restructure. While this is a restructure-crazed point on the NFL calendar, the prospect of adjusting this particular deal would create some new territory due to the $230MM fully guaranteed sum. The Browns do not need Watson’s permission to reshuffle money on his deal, Florio notes. Watson is on Cleveland’s 2023 cap sheet at a record-shattering $54.9MM. A restructure this year could create $33.69MM in cap space, Florio adds. Moving more money onto future caps would create some eye-popping figures, but it is a route the Browns can take to create cap space this year. Cleveland is currently more than $14MM over the cap.
  • Bailey Zappe‘s cameo as a Patriots starter caused became a storyline briefly last season, and while Mac Jones won his job back, Jeff Howe of The Athletic notes Zappe will have a chance to push Jones for the job in 2023 (subscription required). After a record-setting season at Western Kentucky, Zappe completed 70.7% of his passes and won both his starts as a Patriot. Jones helped Bill O’Brien learn Alabama’s system back in 2021, when the former was preparing for the draft, so it would be interesting to see if Zappe will cause a legitimate QB controversy this year.
  • The Jets are interested in bringing back Mike White, but they are expected to have some competition. Other teams are interested in adding the popular Jet as an option to compete for a role, Garafolo notes (video link). This could be as a bridge option for a team planning to draft a quarterback. The Jets have zeroed in on Aaron Rodgers. If the all-time great does decide he wants in on the Big Apple, White would seemingly be headed elsewhere.
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