Daniel Jones Progressing Post-Surgery; First-Round QB Pick On Radar

Of the teams lurking outside the top three who have been connected to a quarterback upgrade attempt, the Giants sit in the best spot. They hold the No. 6 overall pick, the same slot they were in when Daniel Jones became the Eli Manning heir apparent in 2019. Five years later, Jones’ status creates a complicated situation for the team.

Coming off a November ACL tear, Jones is progressing well during his rehab process. The five-year veteran expects to be ready to go by training camp, and GM Joe Schoen indicated (via the New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard) he will be expected to return as the team’s starter should that happen by camp. Confirming a quarterback will be under consideration at No. 6 overall, Schoen remains connected to making his own investment at the position.

[RELATED: Giants Interested In First-Round QB Investment]

Although Schoen and Brian Daboll were in place when the Giants re-signed Jones on a four-year, $160MM deal, this regime did not draft him. Seeing Jones’ injury help drag the Giants down to the No. 6 draft slot, an opportunity may present itself to upgrade on the oft-criticized passer, who was not off to a good start before suffering the ACL tear. While Sportskeeda’s Tony Pauline has the Giants taking LSU wideout Malik Nabers in his latest mock draft, he indicates the team would love a scenario in which one of the top quarterbacks fell to 6. The Giants should also be considered in play to trade up, Pauline adds, with NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo listing Big Blue as a team to monitor regarding a move up the board for a passer.

The Giants cannot realistically move off the Jones contract in 2024. They guaranteed their starter $81MM; that includes a $36MM guarantee for 2024. Jones is not going anywhere this year, but if the Giants are to come out of the first round with a passer, the Dave Gettleman-era draftee probably will not be part of the 2025 team. The Giants can escape this contract in 2025 by taking on only $11MM in dead money — in the event of a post-June 1 cut.

Schoen has said since shortly after Jones’ injury the team needs to address its QB spot. That could mean another veteran backup type, with UFA-to-be Tyrod Taylor expected to move on. Tommy DeVito remains under contract, but after being benched, the popular rookie is not a realistic candidate to become a long-term starter in New York. A number of veterans will be available as Jones insurance, if the Giants show enough faith in their starter — or the board does not align with a QB swing — to avoid acquiring a true replacement option this offseason. Whether Big Blue goes with a rookie that will be expected to supplant Jones or merely a backup option represents one of this offseason’s top storylines.

When connected to either taking a QB at 6 or moving up for one, the Giants would seemingly be tied to interest in Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels. Maye’s stock has held fairly steady despite a less statistically impressive 2023 compared to his first starter season, while Daniels’ spiked during his Heisman year. It would be unlikely to see the Commanders consider giving the Giants the No. 2 pick. The Patriots (No. 3), Cardinals (4) and Chargers (5) represent avenues for the Giants to climb up the board.

Of course, other teams — including the Falcons, Vikings, Broncos and Raiders — will undoubtedly be eyeing that stretch as a trade-up window as well. The Raiders have been connected to Daniels already. With the 2025 QB class not generating much buzz — though, it is obviously early on that front — teams have been connected to trade-up efforts this year.

Jones has now suffered major injuries in two of the past three seasons. Neck trouble ended his 2021 season, leading to surgery, and sidelined him for a brief span last year before the ACL tear. Regarding the knee malady, Jones told Leonard he has progressed to running on a treadmill. But the injury risk the 26-year-old QB now presents will also factor into how aggressive the Giants are to acquire a replacement this year.

Jones’ goal of a camp return could be themed around the Manning successor retaking the Giants’ reins. After DeVito and Taylor combined to produce four wins following Jones’ injury, the Giants’ draft slot slid out of the top three. That naturally will make a Jones replacement effort harder to complete. But if the team selects a QB in Round 1, Jones’ rehab process suddenly looks like it would turn into an awkward audition for a starting job elsewhere come 2025. These disparate paths make the Giants one of this offseason’s most interesting teams.

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