2023 NFL Free Agency: Did Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley Play Their Last Giants Game?

The New York Giants have topped most of the 2022 NFL season, going from a 4-13 record and firing head coach Joe Judge a year ago to nine wins, making the playoffs and beating the Minnesota Vikings in the first round last week improved new head coach Brian Daboll. Had the Giants season ended there, perhaps the franchise would have stayed the course with quarterback Daniel Jones, as by most reports the team was finally heading in the right direction after nearly a decade of ineptitude.

But New York’s season ends on far from a high note after Saturday night’s 7-38 divisional round loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, and Jones played just as poorly as he did in the first three years of his career. At the end of the regular season, a new contract for Daniel Jones seemed inevitable.

It’s not so clear after tonight. Will the Giants ever be good enough with Daniel Jones, or will Daboll, the coach most commonly credited with helping make quarterback Josh Allen an MVP candidate with the Buffalo Bills, want the franchise to come out and finds his own QB selection?

It’s a question that will dominate internal and external discussions as New York approaches free agency, as Jones will be a free agent, as will star running back Saquon Barkley, who himself has come off a career-high in rushing Trying and yards comes in 2022 after three seasons with injuries.

Has one (or both) played their last few games with the New York Giants?

With a projected NFL salary cap of $225 million in 2023, the Giants are expected to have the third-highest pick of any team in the league. A franchise tag for Jones next season is expected to cost just over $32 million, which would gobble up roughly 75% of their current 2023 spending. Only nine quarterbacks in the NFL will earn more than that next season, although Jones leads the NFL with the lowest rate of interceptions (1.1%), he was only 28th in his rate of touchdowns (3.2%). .

Jones finished with just 15 touchdown passes, fewer than one per game, but he rushed for 708 yards and seven touchdowns.

Those who forgive the 25-year-old quarterback will point to New York’s weak supporting cast. The Giants made big mistakes at wide receiver, signing Kenny Golladay to a market-leading free agency contract and marking Kadarius Toney with the 20th overall pick of 2021. Golladay had six catches for 81 yards all season. Toney was traded to the Chiefs last year after playing just 12 games with New York.

And right tackle Evan Neal, a top-10 pick in 2022, has often been cited as one of the league’s worst rookie offensive linemen that year.

But if the Giants need to build a better supporting cast around Daniel Jones to make him successful, how will they be able to do that when they’re also paying Jones like a franchise quarterback? A long-term contract will make Jones cheaper in 2023, giving New York a better chance of retaining other free agents (like Barkley) and finding better receivers and offensive linemen on the market. The Giants can also cut bait to create a little more room with some of their disappointing additions, like Golladay.

However, a long-term contract is also a long-term contract. Can the Giants justify paying Jones the potential $30-$35 million salary for a quarterback who has thrown 36 combined touchdowns in the last three seasons? five less than what NFL leader Patrick Mahomes had in 2022 alone, just one more than the season totals of Joe Burrow and former Daboll mentee Allen.

Or should the Giants consider rewarding and building up for 26-year-old Saquon Barkley, who is finally back to health and capable? A franchise tag for a running back is only estimated at around $8.9 million, and New York would have money left over for other outgoing free agents. And maybe a new quarterback too.

The Giants shocked a lot of people by going 9-7-1 and then defeating the Vikings in the playoffs. That’s a reason for them to consider continuing with the same players who helped them do it. Unfortunately, the Giants also went 1-5-1 against teams in the NFC East, including Saturday’s 31-point loss to an Eagles team they also defeated 48-22, 22-16 in the regular season.

That’s a reason for them to go in a different direction.