The Giants and Daniel Jones just beat the clock.
Jones and the Giants agreed to a long-term contract extension just prior to Tuesday’s 4 p.m. franchise tag deadline, a source said.
That allowed the Giants to place the franchise tag on running back Saquon Barkley to retain his rights and possibly work out a multi-year contract for him, as well.
Jones’ new contract is a four-year, $160 million deal with $35 million more available in additional incentives, according to NFL Network. The contract includes $82 million guaranteed at signing and allowed the Giants to reduce Jones’ 2023 cap hit to around $19 million, per ESPN.
Based on those numbers, Jones received the $40 million annual average salary he desired at minimum. And he has a chance to average up to $48.75 million per year — in the neighborhood of Jones’ initial contract ask — if he earns all of those incentives.
“I said after the season I love this place. I’ve really enjoyed my time here & I want to be here,” Jones said. “I have great respect for this organization, the Maras, the Tisches, my coaches & teammates. I am happy we were able to come to an agreement.”
The Giants are paying Jones, 25, more on this contract than they intended to. The negotiations weren’t easy. Jones changed agencies from CAA to Athletes First, which delayed their start until late February.
This went down to the wire.
But two factors prompted this compromise: first, the organization believes in Jones, from ownership on down; and second, GM Joe Schoen did not want to tie up $32.4 million of his salary cap space on a quarterback franchise tag, even though he had it as a last resort.
Failing to re-sign Jones on Tuesday would have sent Barkley into free agency, too.
“We had productive conversations with Daniel & his representatives over the course of the past week or so,” Schoen said. “We are all pleased that we were able to come to an agreement prior to today’s deadline. This gives us a greater ability to continue to build our roster.”
Instead, the Giants got Jones’ deal done, so they were able to place the non-exclusive franchise tag on Barkley. That gives the team until mid-July to work out a multi-year extension with the running back, or he will play on a one-year, $10.1 million deal.
With Barkley tagged, that $10.1 million now becomes unavailable to the Giants. But they still are operating with around $37 million in space approaching next week’s opening of free agency with other in-house contracts to tackle, led by safety Julian Love.
Jones’ contract rewards the quarterback favorably compared to Derek Carr’s new Saints deal ($37.5 million per year) and Geno Smith’s new Seahawks contract ($25 million per year).
Jones’ $40 million a year average puts him in a three-way tie for seventh at the moment with the Rams’ Matthew Stafford and Cowboys’ Dak Prescott for average annual QB value.
The structure of Jones’ contract on the surface seems to mirror that of the Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen, which was agreed to when Schoen was the assistant GM in Buffalo. Allen got $43 million per year but can reach $48 million per year with incentives.
Carr, 31, reportedly is getting a four-year, $150 million contract from New Orleans with $100 million in guarantees. Smith, 32, reportedly is receiving a three-year, $75 million contract with $40 million guaranteed at signing and $30 million more available in incentives.
The Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson received the non-exclusive franchise tag on Tuesday, which opens the door to another suitor signing him away and compensating Baltimore with two first-round picks.
Jackson, the Bengals’ Joe Burrow, the Chargers’ Justin Herbert and the Eagles’ Jalen Hurts all are expected to land big paydays soon, perhaps all of them as soon as this offseason.
It’s a bit alarming that the Giants agreed to $40 million plus more with incentives considering Jones’ 3-10 combined record against the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles in the division, coming off a 15-passing touchdown season.
Jones did guide the Giants to their first playoff win since 2016, though, including a road Wild Card playoff win in Minnesota.
In that victory, Jones became the first QB in NFL playoff history to throw for 300-plus yards, throw two touchdown passes and rush for 70-plus rushing yards in the same game.
And co-owner John Mara was a staunch supporter of the 2019 sixth overall pick as his franchise QB going back to Jan. 2022 when Schoen was first hired.
Mara hasn’t done an on the record group interview with the local media in almost a calendar year, but he was quoted saying the Giants were “back” after beating the Vikings in this year’s postseason.
So it would have been a major story if two months later, the Giants had not locked Jones up long-term and instead pivoted elsewhere.
The most fascinating part of this saga is that the Giants declined Jones’ fifth-year option last spring, and it was obvious the long-term plan likely was not going to include Jones — unless he forced the Giants’ hand otherwise with an unexpectedly strong season.
Jones stepped up, bet on himself, led the Giants back to the playoffs, then changed agents and held the Giants’ feet to the fire to make sure he received what he was owed.
Now the Schoen-Brian Daboll regime is locked in with Jones as their quarterback, rather than going out to draft their own. It’s time for them to go get Jones a stud No. 1 receiver next. And it’s time for Jones to raise the level of his play even further to justify this.
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