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New York Giants Off-season Plan: Quarterbacks

In this first of several parts, we're looking at the biggest questions at each position group, starting with the quarterbacks.

The New York Giants have an estimated $182,447,060 tied up in its 2021 roster on 90 contracts and only four lousy victories to show for it.

Talk about not getting your money's worth.

Besides not getting what they paid for--and yes, injuries are a big reason--the Giants have now put their 2022 salary cap, which will be used to pay incoming free agents and the draft class, in a precarious situation.

According to Over the Cap, the Giants will be in the red in terms of functional cap space (what's needed to account for the Top 51 contracts next year) by $9,907,965.

The Giants also have seven out of their top ten cap numbers listed at $10 million or more, with at least three worth over $20 million, making next year's cap dangerously top-heavy.

With the Giants on the verge of being eliminated from the playoff race--a loss to Dallas this weekend will make it official--we begin turning our attention to next year.

We'll take a position-by-position look at the Giants' rostered talent, the front office, and the coaching staff. We'll look at the most pressing questions and then offer what we would do to answer them.

Let's get things started with the quarterbacks.

I was the one who asked Giants head coach Joe Judge recently if quarterback Daniel Jones needs to be shut down, did Jones show enough for the organization to move forward with him as the team's starter.

Judge, not surprisingly, endorsed Jones as the team's starting quarterback for 2022, but to be honest--and this is on me--I was initially thinking longer term, as in has the team seen enough to want to exercise Jones's fifth-year option?

I doubt Judge would have answered that particular question--and that's a decision that, with Judge's input, would be made by whoever the general manager is going to be next year.

To be fair to Jones, he hasn't had any sort of consistency in his pro career. Freddie Kitchens would be his third offensive coordinator in as many seasons. While the Giants have kept Jason Garrett's system--they had to, given the timing of Garrett's dismissal--it's still a different voice coming through the radio in his helmet.

That's something that former NFL quarterback and current NFL Network analyst David Carr has been a problem for Jones.

"You have to give him a system that he can own," Carr said. "At the end of the day, if your quarterback believes in (the system) and he knows that he can make it work, you can make anything work.

"They could have made Jason Garrett system work if Daniel really felt like he owned it. The problem is to feel like you own it, you've got to have some success, and I think that without that success, it's hard for a quarterback."

Jones also hasn't had a decent offensive line yet, and the running game hasn't been consistent either, and they have all likely contributed to Jones's inability to take that next step forward the team was hoping for this season.

There's a lot that Judge said he likes about Jones, namely his work ethic, his leadership, and his growth.

"I want him to keep growing and developing his craft," Judge said. "Obviously, he’s a great asset to our team. You want to have him available to play with the team. That’s obviously something that we’re not keeping secret. There’s not really much more to say past that. Daniel’s done a good job growing for us. We’re going to keep on pushing forward with him."

That all being said, the injuries are a big stain on Jones's card. While his toughness is appreciated, there has to be a better balance between showing toughness and being smart when he takes off as a runner.

Jones hasn't shown he can slide feet first into safety, and if this latest injury, which has now sidelined him for three games and counting (the most games he's missed as a pro), doesn't finally drill that message into his head, then who knows what will?

Cap chronicles

Daniel Jones currently has the sixth-highest cap hit ($7,174,288) on the Giants. In 2022, he'll drop to the ninth heaviest cap hit ($8.365 million). The Giants' failure to put a competitive and stable situation around Jones, their intended franchise quarterback, is one of the biggest missteps of the current regime.

Look at Kansas City, New England, Buffalo, and the Chargers. All have recently started over with young quarterbacks brought into stable situations. All were also able to confirm that their respective hunch on the guys they chose to be their franchise quarterbacks was correct.

The Giants might have a conviction on Jones, but how they went about setting up the transition from Eli Manning to Jones has been flat-out costly in more ways than one.

Also, at $8.8 million this year (ninth lowest) and $8.4 million next year invested in the quarterback position, the Giants have one more season to turn things around and start being relevant, while the most important position on the team is at a bargain rate.

So about the backup situation...

People ask why the Giants moved on from Colt McCoy and went with Mike Glennon as the backup quarterback.

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There are a couple of reasons. The first is that Glennon had a stronger arm than McCoy. The Giants, looking to go more vertical this year on offense, likely wanted a stronger-armed quarterback just in case something happened to Jones.

But the other part of the equation no one is talking about is money. When McCoy signed with the Giants in 2020, he signed a 1-year, $2.25 million deal. If the Giants were to have re-signed him in 2021, they would have had to increase that salary.

With the Giants going all-in on free agency, it's probably fair to say that corners had to be cut. One of those was backup quarterback where the Giants were able to land Glennon on a 1-year, $1,375 million contract, saving more than $1 million (which was used elsewhere) of what it probably would have cost to re-sign McCoy.

Should the Giants exercise Jones's fifth-year option?

Of late, I've said that if I'm the Giants, I would not exercise Jones's option year strictly based on the injury history that's growing and the inconsistency, which again, isn't totally his fault, but nonetheless exists.

But having looked at the numbers, I'm going back to my original opinion that they should exercise the option year.

Jones's fifth-year option, which would hit the 2023 cap, would cost $21.369 million, which as of right now would put Jones just slightly under Tom Brady's scheduled earnings for quarterbacks that year.

But in looking ahead--and yes, in roster building, it is wise to look as far as three years down the line--the projected franchise total for a quarterback in 2023 would probably be upwards of $31 million. If the 2023 cap is $225 million, that would mean Jones's franchise tender alone would account for 13 percent of the cap versus the fifth-year option only counting for nine percent.

For a team that has a lot of rebuilding to do, that estimated four percent difference is big.

"All We Want for Christmas is Russell Wilson..."

Sorry Giants fans, but I don't see Russell Wilson riding in on a steed to save this franchise.

The reality is if you're the Giants, right now, you have to choose between fixing the offensive line or adding a solid quarterback to the mix.

With a reported base asking price of three first-round picks, can we all agree that the Giants would be far better off fixing the offensive line before doing anything else this coming off-season?

And can we also agree that having two first-round draft picks, given the grim-looking salary cap situation for 2022, could potentially go a long way toward achieving that more pressing need?

Okay, so how about drafting a new quarterback and trading Jones?

This might not be a popular opinion, but Jones is a quarterback with whom a team can win. Has he shown he can be in the same class as Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes? No. Will he? Who knows?

But for those looking at the draft for an answer, the problem remains the same as when the Giants drafted Jones. They don't have a solid offensive line in place, and until that problem is fixed, it won't matter what the Giants do at quarterback, running back, tight end, or receiver.

Five of the Giants' nine draft picks are in the top 100, and three of those five are in the top 50. If this team can't come away with at least two solid starters in next year's draft, then shame on them.

Keep, Tweak, or Start Over?

Tweak. Jones will be the quarterback next year unless his neck injury is career-ending. But with that said, the Giants coaches might be wise to limit the number of designed runs for a quarterback who thus far has shown no tendency to slide feet first.

The addition of Jake Fromm as a developmental quarterback is intriguing. Quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski said he's been pleased with how Fromm has been coming along.

"I’ve been really impressed with him," Schuplinski said. "A couple weeks ago, he was really just learning the terminology of everything. It helps a little bit that I have some familiarity with how he was used in that system and so I could relate a few things to him. But he’s done a great job picking everything up."

That all said, Fromm has to show it on the playing field where it counts for real, and in that regard, the jury is still out.

The Giants should absolutely investigate adding another veteran to replace Glennon at backup quarterback. Glennon's accuracy issues have been bad enough--he just barely gets the ball into the receivers' catch range--that is when he's not missing wide open receivers running freely down the field.

Given Judge's preference of wanting guys with whom he's familiar from his New England days, Jacoby Brissett, currently with Miami, might be a name to watch.

The Giants will probably have to spend a little more to land Brissett than they did Glennon, but it might just be worth it, given Jones's injury history. 

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