Tagged in: quarterback

Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Rams to open 2022 season; Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football

The NFL will open its new season where the last one kicked off — in Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium, as the Super Bowl-champion Los Angeles Rams host the Buffalo Bills on Thursday, Sept. 8, the teams revealed.

The Bills-Rams matchup features elite quarterback play between Matthew Stafford and Josh Allen, who has guided the Bills to back-to-back playoff appearances. This game highlights a challenging calendar for the Rams, whose opponents have the league’s highest winning percentage from last year (56.7%). NBC will broadcast the game.

The Monday Night Football opener offers a spicy storyline

Russell Wilson making his Denver Broncos debut against his old team, the Seattle Seahawks, in Lumen Field.

Wilson guided the Seahawks to two Super Bowl appearances and nine winning seasons over 10 years. Seattle traded Wilson to Denver in March for multiple draft picks and veteran players.

Other key Week 1 matchups include the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night, a rematch of last season’s Thursday night opener; the Los Angeles Chargers hosting the Las Vegas Raiders, reigniting a dramatic 2021 regular season finale with playoff implications; the Cincinnati Bengals at the Pittsburgh Steelers, a clash of fierce AFC North rivals; and the Kansas City Chiefs making the trip west to play the Arizona Cardinals, two high-powered offenses in the desert.

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The Buccaneers will face serious firepower in the first month of the campaign, with a Sept. 25 home opener versus the Green Bay Packers and a clash with the Chiefs the following week.

Other Week 1 matchups include the Jacksonville Jaguars, with new coach Doug Pederson, at the Washington Commanders, with new quarterback Carson Wentz. Pederson coached Wentz in Philadelphia and won a Super Bowl with the Eagles, although Nick Foles was behind center with Wentz injured.

Several key division matchups, meanwhile, are also on tap for Sept. 11: the New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons, Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans, New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins, and the Packers at Minnesota Vikings.

Also, it will be the Cleveland Browns at Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears, Eagles at Detroit Lions, Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets, and New York Giants at Tennessee Titans.

NFL teams started releasing information on their home openers a few hours before the 8 p.m. league-wide schedule reveal.

Teams have known their opponents since the end of last season, but the NFL builds drama around the schedule release, announcing the order, kickoff times and broadcast networks for all 272 games on one night each May.

This will be the second NFL season that follows a 17-game schedule, as agreed upon by the NFL and players union during recent labor negotiations.

The regular season runs through Jan. 8, with the Super Bowl set for kickoff Feb. 12.

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New York Giants won’t exercise fifth-year option on QB Daniel Jones

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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WR DeVante Parker says he ‘chose’ to be traded from Miami Dolphins to New England Patriots

DeVante Parker was granted his wish; the Miami Dolphins received the draft capital they were looking for; and the New England Patriots got a player they hope will be a top wide receiver for quarterback Mac Jones.

That’s how the primary people involved in the rare intradivision trade — the Dolphins shipping Parker and a 2022 fifth-round pick to the Patriots for a 2023 third-rounder — described what unfolded. There have been just six intradivision trades in the NFL over the last five years, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

“I chose to get traded here,” Parker said Thursday in his first interview since the April 2 deal. “My agent [Jimmy Gould] hit me up, just telling me what the situation was, and the options I had for the teams to go to. The first on my list was the Patriots. I’m just excited we were able to get everything done.”

Dolphins general manager Chris Grier confirmed Wednesday that that’s how it went down, noting that once Miami traded for Tyreek Hill after signing free-agent receiver Cedrick Wilson, Parker’s status with the team changed.

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“When you have an opportunity to do right by the player and the organization — both sides feel good about it. This was never anything where we [had] planned to trade DeVante,” Grier said, highlighting how trading for Hill altered the dynamic.

“Multiple teams called; the Patriots were the most aggressive. We worked with the agent, talked to DeVante, we wanted to do right by him as well. Getting that third-round pick was very important to us. We were fine if it was this year or next year.”

Parker, who played the first seven years of his career with the Dolphins, has spent the past week participating in the Patriots’ voluntary offseason program.

He stated he enjoyed playing in front of Patriots fans as an AFC East rival and said that is one reason he decided being in New England was “just something I want to be a part of.”

The 6-foot-3, 219-pound player added that he likes playing different spots, which is a staple of the Patriots’ offense, and that he hopes to add a down-the-field presence who can high-point deliveries from Jones, the second-year quarterback.

Parker has previously spent time working with Jones in Tampa, Florida, along with fellow Patriots receivers Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers.

“My impressions of Mac: He has a nice arm on him. He was zipping it,” Parker said. “It was a great workout for all of us. It was good for me to come down and start throwing with him early, get the timing down.

“Mac is a good quarterback. The way he throws the ball, it’s not tough. He throws a catchable ball. It’s something I’m looking forward to during the season.”

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Sam Darnold ‘in the lead’ for Carolina Panthers quarterback job, general manager Scott Fitterer says

Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer, less than a month after saying the starting quarterback job was “open,” on Friday said Sam Darnold was “in the lead for that job.”

“We want him to take it and run with it,” Fitterer said. “But we’re gonna add a lot of competition to that room. The whole emphasis is to stabilize the quarterback position to play winning football.

“That’s what we’re working towards.”

A lot has transpired to alter Fitterer’s thought process, starting with Carolina’s failure to acquire Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson in a trade with Houston.

Watson ultimately picked Cleveland over Carolina, New Orleans and Atlanta. The Panthers were ruled out, according to a league source, because they wouldn’t guarantee the third and fourth years on Watson’s contract.

Watson ultimately got a new, five-year deal with the Browns in which he got $230 million fully guaranteed.

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And while Fitterer wouldn’t admit to disappointment over not getting Watson, he says the roster is better than it was a year ago and the Panthers are “two steps closer” to winning the NFC South.

That said, Fitterer didn’t rule out using the No. 6 pick of the April draft on a quarterback or adding another quarterback before the draft via trade or free agency to compete with Darnold.

The most high-profile quarterback available is Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield, who demanded a trade when the Browns started pursuing Watson.

The Panthers presently are not interested in trading for Mayfield, according to a league source.

“We’re monitoring all that,” Fitterer said without addressing Mayfield specifically. “Nothing that we’re going to do immediately.”

Carolina has salary-cap room, around $28 million, to make a move on a quarterback or other players that could improve the roster. Fitterer stated the door hasn’t been closed on bringing back Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore or quarterback Cam Newton.

In terms of Newton, Fitterer said the 2015 NFL MVP would have to want to return to Carolina and understand his role for another reunion to occur.

The Panthers made Newton the top pick of the 2011 draft, released him during the 2020 offseason and brought him back on a one-year deal late last season with Darnold on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Newton was 0-5 as the starter in 2021.

Fitterer’s goal is to make the rest of the roster strong enough so that when Carolina finds the right quarterback the team can win. He says the moves made in free agency have the roster closer to that, adding that most of the deals would have been made even if the team got Watson and his new deal.

But Fitterer admitted the best way to build a roster is to drop a young quarterback into the mix and build around him because that’s most cost-efficient, with established veterans getting such big deals.

That’s how he helped Seattle build into a Super Bowl team with Russell Wilson, a third-round pick in 2012 who went on to become a nine-time Pro Bowl selection.

“That’s probably the right way to build it, draft and development,” Fitterer said. “That’d be a really good plan for us moving forward, but we’re open to all options.”

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Los Angeles Rams lock up QB Matthew Stafford with $160M extension

The Rams and Matthew Stafford have reached agreement on a four-year, $160 million extension that includes $135 million guaranteed and should allow the veteran quarterback to concluded his career in Los Angeles, sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Stafford is cashing in on his spectacular debut season with the Rams after 12 seasons with the Detroit Lions, who traded the 2009 No. 1 overall pick to Los Angeles a year ago. Stafford would be 38 years old in the final season of the extension.

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Stafford is headed into the final year of his previous five-year, $135 million deal signed in Detroit, but he repeatedly stated he had no interest in going anywhere.

His new deal also is clearly calculated to allow the Rams to retain more of their championship core while adding new pieces, since Stafford almost certainly could have received more money at the top of the quarterback market. Aaron Rodgers’ new deal with the Packers is essentially a three-year, $150 million contract.

Stafford never won a playoff game in 12 seasons with the Lions, but he realized the enormous potential of winning a Super Bowl immediately after joining coach Sean McVay and a talented offense including Cooper Kupp, who became the NFL’s receiving leader in the first year of their partnership.

Stafford set a franchise record with 4,886 yards passing in the 17-game regular season, and he tied Kurt Warner’s team mark with 41 touchdown passes while leading the Rams to the NFC West title.

He then excelled in the first four playoff victories of his career, passing for 1,188 yards and nine touchdowns with just three interceptions. He led game-winning drives in the fourth quarter of the Rams’ final three postseason games, including their Super Bowl victory over Cincinnati at SoFi Stadium.

The Rams also are working on a contract extension for All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

Stafford’s deal will alter the amount of room under the salary cap for the Rams, who have already lost several free agents this month. But Los Angeles signed talented veteran receiver Allen Robinson this past week, and the team is hoping to keep Odell Beckham Jr. as well.

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Baker Mayfield requests trade from Cleveland Browns, says it is in ‘best interests of both sides to move on’

Baker Mayfield has requested a trade from the Browns, telling ESPN’s Adam Schefter that it is “in the best interests of both sides” for Cleveland to split with the star quarterback.

“It’s in the mutual interest of both sides for us to move on,” Mayfield told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. “The relationship is too far gone to mend. It’s in the best interests of both sides to move on.”

The Browns, however, have informed Mayfield’s camp that they are “not accommodating his request.”

Mayfield’s request comes on the same day the Browns learned they were out of the running to obtain quarterback Deshaun Watson in a trade from the Houston Texans.

The Browns were one of four teams to meet with Watson in the past week to gauge his interest in waiving his no-trade clause, but they now face significant doubt at the quarterback position.

A source told Trotter earlier Thursday that the Browns, upon falling out of contention to acquire Watson, would prefer to move forward with Mayfield. But Mayfield’s request might force Cleveland to trade the quarterback who won the 2017 Heisman Trophy and then got picked first overall in the draft.

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Mayfield has strong interest in the Colts, who are in the market for a quarterback after trading Carson Wentz to the Washington Commanders, and considers Indianapolis offers a good chance for him to win, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

As Cleveland officials were flying back from their Tuesday meeting with Watson, Mayfield posted a statement on social media thanking the city of Cleveland and its fans “who truly embraced who I am.”

“With many uncertainties, here is where my head and heart is,” Mayfield wrote as an introduction to his message, which he addressed to Cleveland and posted to Instagram and Twitter.

A source told Trotter that Mayfield and his camp learned about the Browns’ meeting with Watson over social media.

Mayfield has endured a tumultuous tenure in Cleveland, where he has played under four head coaches through his first three seasons in the league. But he led Cleveland to its first playoff victory in 26 years after the 2020 season and finished in the top 10 in the league in QBR.

Mayfield suffered a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder in Week 2 of this past season and struggled the rest of the way, finishing 27th in QBR as the Browns missed the playoffs and concluded with a disappointing 8-9 record.

Mayfield, who underwent surgery to repair the labrum Jan. 19 and is expected to be fully cleared well before training camp, is entering the final year of his rookie deal, which will pay him $19 million in 2022.

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Indianapolis Colts still to decide Carson Wentz’s future with the team

The Colts are still working through the process that will decide quarterback Carson Wentz’s fate with the franchise, general manager Chris Ballard stated Tuesday.

“I don’t have a direct answer for you,” Ballard said at the NFL’s scouting combine. “Jim [Irsay], Frank [Reich] and I will sit down over the next 10 days and figure out where it’s going. Ultimately, we’ll do what’s best for the team in the short term and in the long term.”

The Colts are in the position of possibly looking for their third different starting quarterback in as many offseasons. They gave up a third-round pick in the 2021 draft and a first-round pick in the 2022 draft to acquire Wentz from the Philadelphia Eagles in February 2021.

Wentz threw for 3,563 yards with 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season. What he rarely did, however, was take over games, especially in the final two weeks of the regular season, when the Colts needed just one victory to make the playoffs.

He didn’t throw for more than 185 yards in either of those games, completing 58.9% of his pass attempts and throwing a total of two touchdowns. Wentz’s in-game decisions frustrated members of the organization at different times during the season, and Ballard said after the season that he wasn’t ready to fully commit to Wentz for 2022.

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“Ultimately, you have to have a guy you believe in and you can win with,” Ballard said. Ballard was then asked why they didn’t believe in Wentz.

“I’m not saying we don’t,” Ballard said. “I think as we sit down and work through whether Carson is the best long-term answer or not is the best way I can put it. We’re not there yet, I’m not there. That’s something we’ll talk about as a group and move forward. Whatever decision we make will be the best one for us.”

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported on Super Bowl Sunday that the chances of Wentz returning to Indianapolis for a second season looked “bleak.”

Wentz will get $15 million whether he’s on the Colts’ roster or not next season, but the team can save about $13 million if it releases him by March 18. His contract runs through 2024, though there is a potential out after 2022.

The quarterback position has been a nightmare for Ballard since he was hired by the Colts in the winter of 2017.

After missing the 2017 season, Andrew Luck led the Colts to the playoffs in 2018, only to suddenly retire two weeks before the start of the 2019 season. 

Jacoby Brissett failed to secure the position long-term that season. Veteran Philip Rivers served as a bandage for the Colts in 2020, and the team expected that Wentz would stop the revolving door at the position.

But here the Colts are again, unclear as to whom the Week 1 starting quarterback will be.

“I think about all the time,” Ballard said. “Also with a measured approach, knowing you have to be right. Even if you might not be right all the time, that’s the one position you have to keep firing away at until you get it right.”

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Denver Broncos hire Justin Outten as OC, Klint Kubiak as QBs coach

Newly hired Denver Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett continued to fill out his staff on Wednesday, as Green Bay Packers tight ends coach Justin Outten was hired as the team’s offensive coordinator and former Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak was hired as the quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator.

The Broncos also hired Butch Barry as offensive line coach. Barry was the assistant offensive line coach with the San Francisco 49ers this season.

Since being formally introduced on Friday as the team’s head coach, Hackett has spent much of his time interviewing candidates for all his staff positions.

Hackett has said he will call plays, but he, Outten and Kubiak will all do the heavy lifting to try to repair one of the league’s most sluggish offenses. The Broncos have not averaged more than 23 points per match since 2014 and haven’t averaged more than 21 points per game since 2015.

And over the past six seasons, the Broncos have averaged fewer than 20 points per game three times, including this past season, when they finished 7-10.

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“First and foremost, any offense that you have has to be maneuverable and adjustable for whoever you have on your team,” Hackett said last week.

“It’s about finding out what your guys do the best and being able to do that over and over again and taking advantage of their skill sets. … I think the starting point is outside zone. Outside zone on offense is what you want to do, and you want to base that off of play-pass. You want to make the defense cover the entire field. You want to take shots down the field. Let’s all face it: That’s what the people in the stands love — they love those bombs down the field.”

The Broncos still have a major question to answer at quarterback in the coming months as well. 

Drew Lock is set to enter the last year of his rookie deal, and Teddy Bridgewater is planned to be an unrestricted free agent.

The Broncos have started 10 different quarterbacks — running back Phillip Lindsay also started behind center in the no-quarterback game in 2020 because of COVID-19 issues — since the midpoint of the 2016 season.

Outten was the Packers’ tight ends coach during Hackett’s three seasons with the team and was with the Atlanta Falcons during Kyle Shanahan’s time as offensive coordinator, so he is well versed in the version of the West Coast offense that Hackett wants to run, which has roots back to former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan.

Kubiak is also seasoned with the scheme, as he previously spent three seasons as a Broncos assistant for his father, Gary, and later Vance Joseph.

Kubiak was the Vikings’ offensive coordinator last season after two years as the team’s quarterbacks coach. “I remember watching [former Broncos quarterback] John Elway throw the ball down the field to [former Broncos wide receiver Ed] McCaffrey on all of those boot fakes. That was unbelievable,” Hackett stated.

“This is really where this system evolved from and was created. You’re always looking for that, and mixing in that West Coast principle of the dropback game.”

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Tom Brady officially announces retirement after ‘thrilling ride’ with Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady has officially announced his retirement from the NFL, saying Tuesday in an Instagram post that he is “not going to make that competitive commitment anymore.”

“I have always believed the sport of football is an ‘all-in’ proposition — if a 100% competitive commitment isn’t there, you won’t succeed, and success is what I love so much about our game,” Brady said in his statement on Instagram.

“There is a physical, mental and emotional challenge EVERY single day that has allowed me to maximize my highest potential. And I have tried my very best these past 22 years. There are no shortcuts to success on the field or in life.

“This is difficult for me to write, but here it goes: I am not going to make that competitive commitment anymore. I have loved my NFL career, and now it is time to focus my time and energy on other things that require my attention.

I’ve done a lot of reflecting the past week and have asked myself difficult questions. And I am so proud of what we have achieved. My teammates, coaches, fellow competitors, and fans deserve 100% of me, but right now, it’s best I leave the field of play to the next generation of dedicated and committed athletes.”

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Brady, 44, widely considered the greatest quarterback in NFL history, acquired seven Lombardi trophies, the most championships won by a single player, along with five Super Bowl MVPs.

He rewrote much of the NFL record book with personal and team accomplishments.

He piled up career records such as most touchdown passes (624) and most passing yards (84,250) in his 22 seasons — of which 20 were with the New England Patriots.

“My playing career has been such a thrilling ride, and far beyond my imagination, and full of ups and downs,” Brady said in his statement.

“When you’re in it every day, you really don’t think about any kind of ending. As I sit here now, however, I think of all the great players and coaches I was privileged to play with and against — the competition was fierce and deep, JUST HOW WE LIKE IT. But the friendships and relationships are just as fierce and deep. I will remember and cherish these memories and re-visit them often. I feel like the luckiest person in the world.”

Brady, who led the Bucs to a Super Bowl title last season and NFC South championship this season, has been adamant for weeks that he never wanted a “farewell season,” sources told ESPN.

Sources told ESPN on Saturday that Brady had decided to retire, but Brady’s family and the Bucs had said that a final decision had not been reached.

On Monday, Brady said on his SiriusXM podcast that he wasn’t ready to finalize his plans.

After 20 seasons with New England that had already cemented his legacy, Brady joined the Bucs in March 2020 and immediately added another chapter to his story with a seventh Super Bowl title — the first acquired by a team in its own stadium.

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New York Giants won’t trade for Deshaun Watson, seek to ‘build an offense around’ Daniel Jones

The New York Giants don’t appear likely to make major changes at quarterback in 2022, and they definitely won’t be in the market for Deshaun Watson.

“We’re not trading for Deshaun Watson,” Giants co-owner John Mara said Wednesday after introducing Joe Schoen as the team’s new general manager. “There are so many reasons why we wouldn’t do that. Cap-wise, we couldn’t afford [the acquisition], but more importantly, with the allegations that are out there right now, that is just not the right fit for us.”

Daniel Jones has been New York’s starting quarterback for the past three campaigns but has struggled with injuries and inconsistent play since being drafted No. 6 overall in 2019.

Watson wants to be traded from the Houston Texans but didn’t play this past season while facing 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault and inappropriate behavior.

Schoen stated Watson wasn’t even a topic he addressed during the interview process, almost as if he viewed not having interest in Watson as common sense. Watson has a no-trade clause in the deal he signed with Houston in September 2020 and is set to make $35 million in base salary next season.

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“Where we are salary-cap-wise and the pending legal issues, I don’t know how you can go down that road right now,” Schoen said.

The Giants are projected to be about $5 million over the salary cap next season and have Jones on his rookie contract for at least another year.

Schoen and a new head coach who is expected to be hired by early next week will have to decide whether to exercise Jones’ fifth-year option for 2023. The Giants have until May before making that decision.

In the meantime, it appears the Giants are committed to moving forward with Jones, the No. 6 overall draft pick in 2019. Jones threw 10 touchdown passes and seven interceptions in 11 starts this past year before missing the final six weeks with a neck injury.

Jones is expected to be medically cleared in plenty of time for the 2022 season, and Schoen sees enough potential to have him part of the Giants’ plans.

“The kid has physical ability. He’s got arm strength, he’s athletic, he can run,” Schoen said. “I’m really excited to work with Daniel.

“Again, when the new staff gets in here, we’ll build an offense around Daniel to accentuate what he does best.”

There are reasons for the Giants to build around the 24-year-old Jones, who has flashed potential despite playing with an insufficient supporting cast.

The Giants were 28th in the NFL in pass block win rate this season at 53.6%. Their starting running back, tight end and top four wide receivers all missed at least two matches as they finished with the 31st-ranked offense.

The Giants organization still trusts in its starting quarterback for most of the past three seasons.

“We do feel Daniel can play,” Mara said. “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.

“I have a lot of hope in Daniel. I know how badly he wants it. I know how the players feel about him. We are certainly not giving up on him by any stretch of the imagination.”

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