Daniel Jones

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.

Giants Increased Offer To Saquon Barkley; Extension Remains In Play

Rather than spend $32.4MM on a Daniel Jones franchise tag, the Giants beat Tuesday’s buzzer by extending their quarterback. They will have both he and Saquon Barkley on their 2023 payroll for less than that price. Jones’ cap number and Barkley’s $10.1MM tag will help the team pursue upgrades in free agency, but another deadline will loom later this offseason.

The Giants will have until July 17 to reach an extension with Barkley, who has engaged in off-and-on extension talks with team dating back to November. Since that point launched negotiations, Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post reports the Giants have increased their offer to Barkley. That unspecified hike is believed to have emerged during the parties’ offseason talks. GM Joe Schoen said (via Fox Sports’ Ralph Vacchiano, on Twitter) those will continue Wednesday.

Barkley is believed to have turned down a deal in the $12.5MM-per-year neighborhood. Schoen previously acknowledged the in-season negotiations did not lead to much progress, but Dunleavy adds optimism exists the Giants and Barkley can come to agreement before the July deadline. Absent an extension, Barkley will be tied to that $10.1MM cap number throughout the season. Barkley said after the season he wanted to stay with the Giants.

Guarantee distribution and contract length have also formed hurdles here, Dunleavy adds. The three- and four-year timelines have divided the sides. This will probably be Barkley’s last big-ticket agreement, given his experience level and age (26), so it would stand to reason guarantees will be the bigger factor in a deal being closed. That said, the recent run of running back extensions have mostly been four- or five-year pacts. Derrick Henry, Joe Mixon, Aaron Jones and Christian McCaffrey signed four-year extensions. Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara inked five-year accords. Ezekiel Elliott (six) and Nick Chubb (three) are the outliers among the top running back earners.

Barkley joins Josh Jacobs and Tony Pollard on the tag, a team-friendly price that checks in higher than only the kicker/punter tag this year. With the above-referenced deals all agreed to from 2020-21 — excepting Elliott’s, which was signed in 2019 — it is logical for Barkley to pursue a top-market deal given the salary cap’s climb. Barkley initially asked for McCaffrey-level money, but Dunleavy notes the sixth-year back reduced his price by a bit. Barkley said at season’s end he was not looking to reset the market, but after his bounce-back season and considering his importance to the Giants, it should not be expected he settles in the $12MM-AAV range. Still, the sides appear to have bridged the gap to a degree.

The Giants announced Jones’ extension Tuesday night. Jones came down from a $48MM-per-year ask, according to Dunleavy, and The Athletic’s Dan Duggan notes the quarterback’s agents flew to New Jersey on Monday to finish off the negotiations (subscription required). Jones’ 2023 cap hit is expected to check in around $19MM. Barkley is unlikely to sign an extension before free agency; talks had stalled as of Tuesday morning. But the Giants should still have some room to chase some free agents or retain others. They have been linked to having interest in bringing back Julian Love, Nick Gates and Jon Feliciano. All three are ticketed for free agency.

Hammering out those deals may seem easier after the team, using the 2020 Titans’ blueprint (Henry tag, Ryan Tannehill extension), negotiated its top offseason barrier.

Giants, Daniel Jones Agree To Deal; Team To Use Franchise Tag On Saquon Barkley

Minutes before the franchise tag deadline, the Giants have reached an agreement on a Daniel Jones extension. The sides have a deal in place, Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post reports (on Twitter).

This should allow the team to use its franchise tag on Saquon Barkley, and NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo notes that will happen (Twitter link). Jones agreed to a four-year, $160MM extension, Garafolo and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport report. The sides are finalizing the deal, which Rapoport notes can increase by $35MM via incentives (Twitter link).

The Giants had until 3pm CT today to avoid a situation in which Jones was tagged — the team’s plan absent an extension — and Barkley headed toward the open market. Now, the Giants will have both players back in 2023. Barkley’s tag is worth $10.1MM, and he joins Josh Jacobs and Tony Pollard among running backs tagged this year. Jones’ extension will make that number easier for the Giants to fit onto their cap. Tagging Jones would have placed a $32.4MM cap hold on New York’s payroll.

Jones had the Giants up against a deadline that could have meant losing Barkley, pointing to the former first-round pick doing well on the guarantee front. The 25-year-old quarterback will collect $82MM over the deal’s first two years, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets, with SI.com’s Albert Breer noting this does cover Jones’ guarantees (Twitter link). Four years had been the expectation here, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com adds (on Twitter). The Giants are essentially making a two-year bet on Jones ascending.

This represents a staggering financial leap for Jones, who piloted the Giants to the playoffs despite the team’s receiver blueprint changing for the worse early in the season. Jones displayed his best work in terms of efficiency, leading the NFL in interception percentage, and used his legs far more than he had over his first three seasons (810 rushing yards between the regular season and playoffs). Still, the Giants greenlighting a $40MM-per-year extension — the deal’s structure matches Dak Prescott and Matthew Stafford‘s accords — for a QB who threw 15 touchdown passes in his contract year is certainly a notable development in recent transaction history.

Prescott and Stafford agreed to their respective four-year, $160MM extensions on lower salary caps; the cap ballooning past $224MM aided Jones and the Giants. Jones, Prescott and Stafford are all tied for seventh in terms of QB AAV. Though, the money coming for Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert and Jalen Hurts — and possibly Lamar Jackson, as that saga is heating up in Year 3 — stands to bump the NFC trio down a bit this offseason. For now, however, Jones has secured top-10 quarterback money less than a year after the Giants passed on a $22.4MM fifth-year option.

The Giants entered their extension talks with Jones hoping the price would not hit $35MM per year, but the tag deadline worked in Jones’ favor. As Jones hired new representation, the $45MM-AAV number emerged. That figure floated for multiple weeks, with a report late last week indicating Eli Manning‘s successor was asking for a deal north of that number. The Giants negotiated with Jones’ camp daily at the Combine, and the sides agreed on what could be a nice compromise. Jones will have a chance to work in Brian Daboll‘s offense for the long haul, and the team is expected to pursue receiver upgrades to help its passer.

A neck injury ended Jones’ 2021 season after 11 games. Although the Duke product’s 24 touchdown passes as a rookie — in just 13 games — remain a top-10 all-time mark for first-year passers, he did not show much in the way of development during the 2020 and ’21 seasons. In 14 starts in 2020, Jones threw just 11 TD passes. Considering the 2020 CBA made fifth-year options fully guaranteed, the Giants predictably passed on Jones’. But the dual-threat QB showed long-elusive progress in his contract year. The Giants are making a bet superior weaponry will further unlock the Dave Gettleman-era draftee’s capabilities.

As for Barkley, it will be interesting to see how he responds. The former No. 2 overall pick congratulated Jones on his extension (Twitter link), but he is now attached to a $10.1MM salary after turning down an extension in the $12.5MM-per-year range. The guarantees included in the Giants’ proposal are not known, but it has long been assumed GM Joe Schoen is not expected to offer Barkley a deal in the Christian McCaffrey neighborhood ($16MM AAV). That will create another notable deadline for the Giants, who have until July 17 to extend Barkley. Otherwise, the sides cannot discuss a deal until 2024. A compromise of $14MM per year emerged weeks ago, but the Giants and Barkley are still not believed to be close.

Barkley, 26, is obviously a superior NFL player to Jones. Positional value led the Giants to understandably prioritize the less accomplished player. Barkley’s hot start to the 2022 season — one that ended with the Penn State product totaling 1,650 scrimmage yards and 10 touchdowns, completing a comeback from an injury-plagued three seasons — earned him an early negotiation slot with Schoen. Like Jones, the new regime was not completely sold on Barkley coming into the year. Trade buzz circulated early during the 2022 offseason, but both Gettleman-era investments earned the new regime’s trust.

The Giants negotiated with Barkley, and not Jones, during their bye week last season. They did not come close on terms, and although Barkley talks resumed before Jones’ negotiations began this offseason, no compromise is imminent. Fortunately, the team had the tag at its disposal to ensure its cornerstone tandem returned. Considering only one player has skipped the season after being tagged since 1998 (Le’Veon Bell, 2018), it is a good bet Barkley will be in uniform for the Giants in 2023.

The Giants entered Tuesday with more than $36MM in cap space. Today’s transactions will eat into that total considerably, with Fowler adding (via Twitter) Jones’ 2023 cap number should come in around $19MM. But the team’s plan to pursue wideouts and potentially bring back Julian Love should not be entirely nixed because of this afternoon’s high-profile transactions.

Latest On Contract Talks Between Giants, Daniel Jones

MARCH 7: Negotiations continued deep into Monday night, Garafolo notes, but nothing is currently considered imminent (Twitter link). As is the case with the Ravens and Lamar Jackson, talks could come right down to the 3pm CT deadline for a resolution. Adding further to the continued uncertainty, ESPN’s Dianna Russini tweets that it is “50-50” whether or not a multi-year deal gets over the finish line in time between the Giants and Jones. She adds that talks with Barkley have “stalled,” pointing further to him reaching free agency if New York is forced to tag Jones.

MARCH 6: One major domino has fallen with respect to the 2023 QB market already, but plenty of attention remains focused on the Giants and Daniel Jones. Talks at the Combine didn’t result in a contract being finalized, but a breakthrough could still be possible in the very near future.

Less than 24 hours remain until the franchise tag deadline, meaning the Giants continue to face pressure to ink Jones to a multi-year deal (and by doing so, give themselves the option of using the franchise tag on running back Saquon Barkley). Failing that, Jones will receive the tag to lengthen the negotiating window for both sides, but also ensure that he will be in New York for at least the 2023 campaign.

Jones’ decision to change agents and subsequent increase in contract demands has dominated the storyline in this situation. His asking price (roughly $45MM-per-year) is not believed to be a point to which the Giants are willing to go, though, and the 25-year-old’s performances through 2021 made it an easy decision for the team’s previous regime to decline his fifth-year option. That has left the two parties at something of an impasse, though optimism was said to exist following the weekend’s negotiations.

On that point, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reports (via Twitter) that Jones’ representatives have travelled to New Jersey today to continue talks in person with the Giants. That will at least keep open the possibility of a deal being finalized at the eleventh hour. The framework of a possible contract will still likely be heftier than what the team had been hoping for, though.

In an update on where things stand as of the weekend, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano report that Jones’ deal could be four years in length and carry a value of over $160MM. That would be very similar to the one which Derek Carr signed with the Saints earlier today, though a number of differences exist in the two passers’ respective situations. Jones doesn’t have the pedigree of Carr, a four-time Pro Bowler, but the Duke alum is six years younger and took a significant step forward in play last year, the first with Brian Daboll in place as head coach.

Fowler notes that many around the league have been surprised by the degree to which the Giants remain “comfortable” in giving Jones a major second contract. They still have the franchise tag option (which would cost $32.4MM) as a failsafe, of course, but using it would allow Barkley to hit free agency as the top RB on the market. Whether today’s talks produced any progress will go a long way in determining the Giants’ next moves in the coming days.

Latest On Giants, Daniel Jones

MARCH 5: Jones and New York brass are expected to leave the scouting combine today “with no contract resolution in sight,” as Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reports (via Twitter). Pelissero’s NFL Network colleague, Mike Garafolo, says it always seemed likely that, if a long-term deal is going to be struck prior to the March 7 deadline for teams to utilize the franchise tag, it will happen in the 48 hours leading up to the deadline (Twitter link). However, Pelissero’s report suggests that there is still a great deal of work to be done in these negotiations.

MARCH 3, 4:00pm: Painting a more optimistic picture of the situation compared to Leonard’s report, ESPN’s Jordan Raanan tweets that progress has been made in recent days between the two sides. He adds that a contract being finalized before the tag deadline “doesn’t seem unreasonable,” something which would of course carry massive implications for the team if it were to happen. Jones being signed would allow for the franchise tag to become an option for Barkley, thus keeping him off the market. Raanan also echoes the expectation that Jones’ deal will check in at a value of at least $40MM per season.

MARCH 3, 8:57am: Daniel Jones‘ rumored $45MM-per-year price point emerged almost two weeks ago. Despite the Giants negotiating with their free agent-to-be quarterback daily this week, they do not appear to be making progress.

Not only has Jones not come down from that lofty number, Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News reports his ask is beyond $45MM on average. GM Joe Schoen said Thursday he wished the two sides were closer on terms by this point. The gap between where the Giants want this deal to land and what Jones’ camp points to a franchise tag.

The Giants initially feared Jones’ ask would come in beyond $35MM per year. Given the developments since the sides started negotiating, that number sounds reasonable now. Guarantee structure will matter here, but it does not appear the Giants are entertaining a number north of $45MM AAV. That is top-five (for now) quarterback money — north of Patrick Mahomes‘ 10-year deal’s average — and it points to Team Jones viewing the fifth-year passer as ascending to the point the Giants need to pay up for what he will be with a stronger supporting cast.

Jones’ wild-card performance in Minnesota notwithstanding, his being connected to an ask in this neighborhood after a 15-touchdown pass season is interesting. The Giants’ wide receiver plan broke down to the point a waiver claim (Isaiah Hodgins) had emerged as his go-to target by season’s end. Saquon Barkley was by far the team’s best skill player. Jones’ ask staying at this place could certainly lead to the sixth-year running back hitting the market.

The $37MM-AAV range has emerged as a sweet spot here; that would check in around the price of a 2024 Jones franchise tag. This year’s QB tag is $32.4MM, explaining the gap between the Giants and Jones four days away from the deadline to tag players.

Evaluators at this week’s Combine have classified Jones as an above-average quarterback not in the top tier at his position, Leonard adds, noting execs would want to see more before entertaining a contract in this price range. “Above average” is a safe label, even after Jones’ surprising 2022 season. The 25-year-old QB is a year removed from the Giants passing on a $22.4MM fifth-year option. Now, the prospect of Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson moving the top of the QB market is likely affecting the Giants.

This offseason brings a handful of quarterback-needy teams. The Jets and Saints are leading the way in terms of those connected to veteran arms, with Aaron Rodgers and Derek Carr at the forefront. The Giants are not planning to let Jones test free agency; the only way he could gauge his value is to negotiate with other teams while on the tag. It would cost a team two first-round picks to pry Jones from the Giants, who would need to match an offer sheet to keep him in that scenario. Would another team’s offer come close to a deal in the high-$40MM range?

Even if this offseason saga is unlikely to reach that point, the Giants are on the verge of being stuck with a $32.4MM tag clogging their payroll going into free agency. The team sits near the top of the league in terms of cap space, holding $46.9MM as of Friday morning. Its equation would change if/once Jones is tagged.

Giants Not Planning To Raise Offer To Saquon Barkley?

Inheriting two downward-trending pieces on offense in 2022, the Joe Schoen-led front office is now negotiating with two players coming off bounce-back seasons. The Giants are days away from a date that could send one of them out of New York.

The team continues to negotiate with Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley. Schoen said he has talked to the free agent-to-be (or soon-to-be-tagged) quarterback’s camp throughout the week but mentioned during a Good Morning Football appearance he wished the Giants and their QB were closer on terms (video link). Teams have until 3pm CT Tuesday to apply franchise tags, which the Giants will do if no Jones deal commences by then.

Jones’ talks have hovered over Barkley’s throughout the offseason, as the running back — despite beginning negotiations with the Giants before they were sold on Jones — represents the second domino here. The Giants offered Barkley a deal in the $12.5MM-per-year neighborhood — one Derrick Henry, Dalvin Cook and Nick Chubb populate. Then again, those contracts were respectively agreed to in 2020 (Henry, Cook) and 2021 (Chubb). The salary cap has climbed to $224.8MM since, which could make Barkley signing for a similar amount a somewhat sobering (as far as eight-figure-per-year deals go, at least) transaction on his part.

While a report indicated the Giants moving to $14MM per year could probably finish this process, Ralph Vacchiano of Fox Sports adds Combine buzz suggests the team will not raise its offer from the $12.5MM-AAV place (Twitter link). When the Giants initially offered that, Schoen confirmed the talks did not come close. The second-year GM said earlier this week the sides had made some progress.

Guarantees here are not known, and if Barkley would entertain signing for this price, the Giants would likely need to step up on that front. As a former No. 2 overall pick, Barkley already signed a deal for $31.2MM guaranteed at signing. Not even Christian McCaffrey‘s contract — still the position-record deal on the AAV front, at $16MM — contains that. If Barkley does not accept the estimated $12.5MM-per-year accord, Vacchiano adds the Giants would be willing to let him walk.

This stance invites risk, as their pass catcher-deficient offense depended on Barkley for much of last season. Then again, free agency will bring a host of starter-level options — including Miles Sanders, Kareem Hunt and Devin Singletary, who arrived in Buffalo during Schoen and Daboll’s tenure — that would save the Giants money as they regrouped following failed Barkley negotiations. Still, Barkley is quite popular among the team’s fanbase and, when healthy, is one of the NFL’s best backs. Although this year’s free agent running back surplus could devalue the position, Barkley would shoot to the top of the market if untagged — especially if the Cowboys and Raiders respectively cuff Tony Pollard and Josh Jacobs.

The Giants’ best path remains extending Jones by Tuesday’s deadline and tagging Barkley at $10.1MM. A Jones tag will cost $32.4MM. As far as a long-term deal goes, Jones has been closely tied to a $45MM-per-year ask. The Giants had hoped $35MM per year would be the ceiling here. To bridge this gap, Vacchiano notes the sweet spot may well be a $37MM-AAV extension with the first two years guaranteed (Twitter link).

Jones asked the Giants for some time away before beginning negotiations and hired new representation after that stretch. How the Giants proceed with their passer’s new agency over the next week will certainly have a major say in their immediate future.

Giants, Saquon Barkley Moving Closer To Deal; Team Begins Dexter Lawrence Talks

Sitting as the second domino in the Giants’ offseason equation for weeks, Saquon Barkley remains unsigned. He and the Giants have been in talks since midway through last season, but Joe Schoen pointed to progress Tuesday.

The second-year Giants GM said the sides are “a little bit closer” on terms. It is believed the Giants offered Barkley a deal in the $12.5MM-per-year range; that did not move the needle much during the fall talks. The Giants have not been connected to being open to moving too much higher, but they might be willing to climb a bit to retain their dynamic back.

We haven’t totally bridged [the difference]. We’re a little bit closer,” Schoen said, via ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan. “There’s still a gap, [otherwise] would’ve done it. We’ll still work through that. We’re working with Roc Nation and [Barkley’s agent] Kim [Miale]. We have a great relationship with them and her.

“… Again, you have to draw a line in the sand — like we’re not going any further. And if it goes past this [line], alright, let’s shift to Plan B. Again, hopefully we don’t get to all that but we went through all these plans.”

A recent report indicated a deal at around $14MM per year could move this lengthy process past the goal line. That still would place Barkley outside the top three among running backs, and with those deals (for Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara and Ezekiel Elliott) all being signed in 2020 or before, it would obviously be somewhat unsatisfying for the Giants back to accept such terms now that the cap has spiked to $224.8MM. But the Giants could have both the advantage of the franchise tag and a robust running back market that could suppress players’ values.

Barkley, 26, has already pocketed considerable cash, being a former No. 2 overall pick and having finished his fifth-year option season. But this offseason represents his best chance to cash in during a career not expected to last too much longer. Barkley should still have multiple prime years left, but backs routinely do not play past 30 in the modern game. The Giants have until March 13 to keep Barkley off the market, but their real deadline may be March 7 — the last day to apply franchise tags.

Schoen reiterated the Giants’ plan to tag Daniel Jones (at a steep $32.4MM) unless an extension is reached. A $10.1MM Barkley tag would, then, only commence if Jones is extended. While the GM expressed cautious optimism extensions for Barkley and Jones will be completed, via the New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard (on Twitter), the Giants are likely to go down to the wire here.

Beyond the Jones-Barkley components of this offseason, the Giants have Dexter Lawrence coming off a breakout year and heading into a contract campaign. The Giants have already begun talks with Lawrence, Schoen said (via Leonard), but the discussions look to be preliminary in nature. It is not known if the Giants want to be the team that first bridges the gap between Aaron Donald and the field at defensive tackle. The Commanders just tagged Daron Payne, but he will be part of that mix that includes Jeffery Simmons and Chris Jones, who are each in contract years.

Those contracts would stand to drive up the price for Lawrence, who is going into his fifth-year option season. But the former Clemson standout (and last piece of the Odell Beckham Jr. trade still on either the Giants or Browns) said he wants to stay in New York. The Giants would have the option of a 2024 franchise tag with Lawrence, though their 2023 tag candidates obviously take precedence.

Scrolling further down Big Blue’s expanding priority list, Schoen confirmed the Giants want to keep Julian Love. The Giants will speak with Love’s agent at the Combine, but a deal may not transpire until the Giants survey the market. Schoen said the team will wait to see if teams cut safeties to create a market surplus, which would affect Love’s value. John Johnson will be one of the cap casualties, joining a market set to house Jessie Bates, Vonn Bell, C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Jordan Poyer, whom Schoen has close ties to from his Buffalo days. Additionally, Schoen mentioned Jihad Ward as a leadership type the Giants will not want to lose (Twitter links via Leonard). The rotational edge rusher just played out a league-minimum contract.

Latest On Giants’ Talks With Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley

It appears the Giants and Daniel Jones have finally begun their negotiations, following a delayed start caused by the quarterback’s late agency switch. Jones’ new agents are setting a high bar and have some deadline-driven leverage to use.

The $45MM-per-year number that emerged earlier this week appears in step with the Jones camp’s asking price. The fifth-year passer views his value as past $40MM AAV, Ralph Vacchiano of Fox Sports notes. As could be expected, the Giants are hoping a deal will check in lower. The team wants this deal to be closed at around $35MM per year.

[RELATED: 2023 NFL Franchise Tag Candidates]

The latter number has been circulated as well, with the Giants having hoped Jones’ asking price would not top that $35MM-AAV figure. Jones’ camp can compare prices to other QBs, but it appears a near-certainty he will not have the chance to explore free agency. Although the Giants do not look to be considering the $45MM-plus exclusive franchise tag for Jones, they will apply the non-exclusive tag ($32.4MM) if no agreement is reached by March 7 — when the window for tagging players closes. That would affect the Giants’ plans with Saquon Barkley, but Jones’ reps can use the threat of that cap-clogging QB tag as leverage against the team.

A post-contract-year price hike aside, this process could still have a happy ending (albeit an expensive one) for the Giants. Both camps view a Jones deal before the March 7 deadline as likely, Vacchiano adds, but this business could go down to the wire. The longer Jones is not tagged, the closer Barkley comes to hitting the open market.

It would be an interesting foray for Barkley, as a buyer’s market awaits this year’s glut of UFA-to-be running backs. The former No. 2 overall pick’s talent cannot exactly be questioned, especially after his bounce-back year, but the franchise tag price ($10.1MM) and flooded market could depress his value. Josh Jacobs and Tony Pollard are the only other backs connected to the franchise tag, and while those players being cuffed would stand to benefit Barkley most, the prospect of Miles Sanders, Kareem Hunt, Jamaal Williams, David Montgomery, Devin Singletary, D’Onta Foreman and Damien Harris all hitting the market offers teams cheaper alternatives to the five-year Giant. This could push Barkley back to the Giants’ offer.

New York offered Barkley an extension in the $12.5MM-per-year range, and though a $14MM-AAV pact has also come out, no report of that number being offered has emerged yet. With Ezekiel Elliott close to taking a pay cut or being cut, the 2023 season may feature only two backs — Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara — tied to $15MM-per-year contracts. No ball-carrier sits between $13-$15MM. Some familiar with GM Joe Schoen do not believe he would want to venture into the $14MM range, per Vacchiano. Though, if the Giants already offered $12.5MM, such a leap (without knowing the guarantee structure) is not hard to imagine. The Giants have been talking with Barkley longer than Jones, negotiating with the former Offensive Rookie of the Year in the fall and starting again in late January.

Jones, 25, has rocketed out of the QB no-man’s land position — the $15-$30MM-per-year range — and into another gap. No passers are currently tied to a deal between $35MM and $40MM per annum. The notion of the Giants bailing and looking into one of this year’s cheaper QB options has not surfaced. It would be interesting to see if a true hardball effort by Jones’ camp would lead to the team floating such a plan.

Latest On Giants’ Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley Negotiations

The franchise tag window opened at 3pm CT today, and while it is unsurprising the Giants have not made a decision, Daniel Jones‘ recent actions could push the team down the path to one soon. Jones has changed agents, and his asking price may well prompt the Giants to tag him.

The $45MM-per-year number has been floated for the former first-round pick. That figure is higher than the Giants want to go; it might be significantly higher. The Giants hoped Jones’ asking price would come in below $40MM AAV, Paul Schwartz of the New York Post notes (video link).

[RELATED: 2023 NFL Franchise Tag Candidates]

Jones upped his value considerably this season, a statistically unspectacular campaign but an efficient one that brought improvement from his first three years. A woeful Vikings defense played a part, with Jones accounting for 368 and 379 yards in the Giants’ Week 17 and wild-card round games in Minnesota. Those marked Jones’ highest and second-highest yardage outputs this season; his all-around performance in the rematch led the Giants to their first postseason win in 11 years. The 25-year-old passer is now in strong position, and his recent actions point to him maximizing it.

Regarding negotiations, however, the Giants do not appear to be too far out of the starting blocks. Prior to Jones changing agents, the sides had not officially started talks, Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News notes. Jones’ agent change merely delayed them, per Leonard, who adds this switch looks to have come about because of backchannel word ahead of the official talks. While the $45MM figure has circulated, it has not come up in official negotiations yet. Jones changing agencies does signal these discussions could bring some turbulence, but Leonard expects a deal to be finalized.

With no quarterback tied to a deal between $35MM and $40MM per annum, the latter number has become a line of demarcation of sorts. Dak Prescott and Matthew Stafford are tied to $40MM-per-year pacts. Both have obviously proven more than Jones, though the cap’s growth puts the Duke product in a good spot. Going to $45MM would move Jones past Josh Allen ($43MM per year), even though guarantees provide a better indications of contracts’ value. But the $40MM price range would put Jones in interesting company. A deal between $35-$40MM has been the expected range for Jones for a bit.

After a historically turnover-prone rookie season, Jones submitted two inferior statistical years in 2020 and 2021 — the latter an injury-shortened slate. The Joe SchoenBrian Daboll regime, then, did not pick up his $22.4MM fifth-year option in May 2022. Despite Jones throwing 15 touchdown passes during the 2022 regular season — nine down from his 13-game rookie year — he finished with the league’s lowest interception rate and piloted a playoff-qualifying season even as various developments depleted the Giants’ pass-catching corps. But Big Blue might be forced to further weaken its skill-position arsenal to keep Jones.

New York still wants to sign both Jones and Saquon Barkley to long-term deals, Jeff Darlington of ESPN.com tweets. The tag is not expected to come out until close to the 3pm deadline on March 7. That is not uncommon; most tag business unfolds close to the March and July deadlines. But Jones will receive the tag if he is not signed by that point. That would put Barkley on track for free agency. The Giants tagging Barkley at $10.1MM would be far less constraining than cuffing Jones at $32.4MM. Big Blue would prefer this path, with a Jones extension producing a cap number low enough it would still allow for some free agency moves.

A Jones tag would not only limit the team’s options with outside free agents, it would cut into funds for a last-ditch Barkley deal. Following the tag deadline, the Giants would have six more days of exclusive Barkley negotiations; the legal tampering period begins March 13. However, the Combine will give the two-time Pro Bowl running back a good indication of what will be out there for him on the market. The team has offered Barkley a deal in the $12.5MM-per-year neighborhood, and it is believed a $14MM-AAV pact could wrap these negotiations. Thus, signing Jones by March 7 will be the best way for the Giants to retain both their offensive cornerstones.

The Titans navigated a similar situation in 2020 by re-signing Ryan Tannehill just before free agency and tagging Derrick Henry, who signed an extension that summer. The next two weeks will be telling for the Giants in their effort to retain their quarterback and running back.

Daniel Jones Changes Agents; Giants QB Seeking $45MM-Per-Year Deal?

Giants general manager Joe Schoen faces the tall task of keeping quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley in the fold for at least the 2023 season. The team’s priorities in terms of signing long-term deals has shifted recently, and the former is looking to use his leverage to a significant extent.

Jones has changed agents, as first reported by ESPN’s Jordan Raanan (on Twitter). The 25-year-old was represented by CAA, but has signed with Athletes First; such a change usually requires a five-day waiting period, but CAA has reportedly waived that. The move marks one of several agent changes seen in recent weeks amongst pending free agents, but it could signal a desire on Jones’ part to secure a larger deal than many were expecting.

Indeed, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that Jones is seeking more than what the Giants have offered to date. Specifically, he notes that Jones’ ask could be for a deal averaging “as much as $45MM per season.” That would represent a steep increase in price compared to the $35MM-per-year region a new contract has been expected to land in. It would also, of course, mark a much larger figure than what the non-exclusive franchise tag ($32.4MM) would cost for 2023.

Five signal-callers currently average $45MM or more on their current contracts, including First Athlete client Deshaun Watson. His historic, fully-guaranteed deal has widely been seen as an outlier compared to other QB mega-deals, though, and was signed under far different circumstances to the ones Jones and the Giants are currently in. The Duke alum had by the best year of his career in 2022, but his previous struggles made it an easy decision for the team to decline his fifth-year option last offseason.

Doing so now leaves them in the position of a multi-year deal being the best option with respect to keeping Barkley on the books as well. The franchise tag for running backs is a fraction of the cost for quarterbacks, and would save the Giants significant cap space by keeping Barkley around in 2023 via that route. That could postpone contract talks with him (which have suggested the 26-year-old could ink a deal worth roughly $14MM per year) until next offseason, where clarity may have emerged for the Giants on the performance and injury front.

While Florio’s update is certainly noteworthy, one from Paul Schwartz of the New York Post falls in line with previous reporting on the Jones situation. He notes that the “ballpark” contract the team is eyeing is five years and $190MM, which equates to an AAV of $38MM. Spreading out the cap hit on such a pact would give the Giants valuable flexibility, and confirm their stated goal of moving forward with him as their franchise QB. Negotiations could take an interesting turn now, however, as free agency draws nearer.