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Giants Dilemma: What to Do With Daniel Jones's Fifth-year Option

Daniel Jones's career durability issues raises a question about whether the Giants would be better off declining his fifth-year option. Some thoughts.

A week after the upcoming draft, the New York Giants will have to decide whether to exercise the fifth-year option on their 2019 first-round draft picks, defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence II (No. 17 overall) and quarterback Daniel Jones (No. 6 overall).

The decision is likely to be made by a new general manager if current general manager Dave Gettleman, who drafted both players, is no longer with the team. Head coach Joe Judge and team ownership are likely to be heavily involved in the decisions.

But of the two decisions that need to be made, the one that's likely to create the most debate/discussion involves Jones, who would be estimated to earn $21.369 million if the Giants exercise his fifth-year option.

Should they? 

I've thought all along that the Giants will exercise Daniel Jones's fifth-year option, regardless of who the general manager is.

That said, the durability issues are a major concern. Jones has missed time in each of his first two seasons with injuries suffered as a runner and is now on injured reserve with a neck injury that hopefully will heal with time but one which can be unpredictable.

Some think Jones hasn't shown enough for the Giants to make an informed decision one way or another, but I don't agree. He's had 38 career games, 25 of them in the current offensive system that hasn't been changed up all that much given the timing of when Jason Garrett was fired.

Projected to get a $21.369 million salary that would be guaranteed for injury if his option year is picked up, an argument can be made that, given his durability issues, the Giants might not want to go that route. Instead, they should take their chances with letting Jones play out next year and then decide where to go with him from there.

The 2023 league-wide salary cap is projected to be $225 million as the revenue from the new broadcast distribution deals will hit in 2023. If the estimates for Jones's fifth-year option holds, then he would only count for about nine percent of the 2023 cap.

The Giants only have 27 players under contract for 2023 and are estimated to have about $93,379,912 in cap space. Jones's option would bring that total down to just over $72 million (the Giants will probably have more in 2023 as it's doubtful Sterling Shepard will be on the roster then.

If they have to franchise him, they should have the cap space in 2023 to fit him in, though if he lights things up next year, the franchise tag would be used to hold onto his rights while a new deal was negotiated to lower his number.

So What Does Jones Need to Show?

Ideally, he needs to get out of that mold and start showing that he can load the team on his shoulders and carry them to victory. While that sounds easier said than done, former NFL quarterback and current NFL Network analyst David Carr, who was with the Giants as a backup to Manning during the 2011-2012 seasons, said it's doable.

"You can get out of that game manager mold by making splash plays a big throws down the field or plays with your legs," Carr told Giants Country. "I think that's where Eli (Manning) kind of separated himself. When you think about the games that he won, the two-minute drill and how great he was in that moment. I think that's, I think that's what you do."

While Jones isn't quite at a point yet where when the game is on the line, there is confidence abound about wanting the ball in his hands, Carr thinks that the Giants need to continue building around him to change that.

"That's going to take having a solid offensive line, having some guys that can win (one-on-one matchups), and then having a system that allows him the opportunity to make those plays," Carr said.

The Bottom Line

If the Giants want to play it conservatively with Jones and exercise his fifth-year option, they could swing it financially.

But until they fix the offensive line, does it really matter? .

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