The New York Giants have elected to decline the fifth-year option on quarterback Daniel Jones’ rookie contract, a source told ESPN’s Dianna Russini. It would have guaranteed the team’s starting quarterback $22.39 million next season.
The Giants did opt to pick up the fifth-year option on the rookie contract of defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence, the team revealed. The 17th overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft is now guaranteed $10.8 million for the 2023 season.
Jones, 24, was the sixth overall selection in the 2019 draft out of Duke. But while the Giants still think he can be their quarterback into the future, he hasn’t yet shown it consistently on the field. Jones has missed matches because of injury each of his first three professional seasons and has thrown just 21 touchdown passes in the past two seasons combined.
Jones’ 24 touchdown passes as a rookie remains a career high.
That made the decision on the young quarterback rather obvious. The Giants didn’t want to guarantee Jones more than $20 million before they saw him perform consistently at a level where there was no doubt that he was a franchise quarterback. They might have high hopes, but it hasn’t happened in the first three seasons playing under three different offensive coordinators.
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General manager Joe Schoen mentioned the cautionary tale of the Carolina Panthers and Sam Darnold not long after he was hired. Darnold is guaranteed $18.9 million this season after the Panthers traded for him and picked up his fifth-year option before he ever played a game for the team. Meanwhile, Carolina spent this offseason trying to land an upgrade at quarterback and are stuck with Darnold on their books.
Cleveland, which ultimately landed Deshaun Watson, is in an alike position with Baker Mayfield, who also had his fifth-year option picked up last year.
It’s not that the Giants don’t have confidence and high hopes for Jones; they do. But if he performs as they expect — under the new regime led by coach Brian Daboll — they can always use the franchise tag next year at around $30 million or sign Jones to a long-term deal. They don’t feel the need to make any commitments at this point.
Jones will remain the Giants’ starter to start this season, and the organization has high expectations despite signing veteran Tyrod Taylor to a two-year deal this offseason.
“We do feel Daniel can play,” co-owner John Mara said earlier this year. “We’ve done everything possible to screw this kid up since he’s been here. We keep changing coaches, keep changing coordinators, keep changing offensive line coaches. I take a lot of responsibility for that. But let’s bring in the right group of coaches now and give him some continuity and try to rebuild the offensive line and then be able to make an intelligent evaluation of whether he can be the franchise quarterback or not.”
Mara added later this offseason that either you have your quarterback or you don’t, and he considered the Giants had theirs. In the meantime, Taylor is signed for $5.5 million next year and could potentially serve as a relatively inexpensive bridge option should Jones not pan out.
Lawrence, 24, has been a three-year starter in the middle of the Giants’ defense. He had 52 tackles and 2.5 sacks last season.
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