The New York Giants rode quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley to the playoffs this past season, ending a postseason drought that stretched back to 2017. For both stars to return next season, New York needs to make them two of the highest-paid NFL players in 2023.
Barkley, a Comeback Player of the Year candidate last season, and Jones, one of the NFL’s breakout stars, are both two of the top free agents this offseason. It puts the Giants in a challenging spot, needing to keep their young talent while wrestling with question marks surrounding both players.
- Daniel Jones stats 2022: 92.5 QB rating, 15-5 TD-INT, 67.2% completion, 60.8 QBR
In Barkley’s case, there are no doubts regarding his talent or production. The 36-year-old running back played like an All-Pro weapon for the majority of the 2022 season, recording 1,650 scrimmage yards with 10 touchdowns in 16 games.
However, Barkley played in just 15 combined games in his previous two years and averaged just 3.5 yards per carry over that stretch. There are concerns regarding his long-term durability, which brings the exclusive franchise tag into play.
Using the tag on Barkley over Jones is the front office’s preference as of now. A one-year contract would allow the Giants to keep the centerpiece of their offense in 2023, evaluating him for one more season before making a long-term commitment.
However, that raises a new complication with Jones. While he played relatively well this past season, eliminating his penchant for turnovers, the Giants offense was predictable. New York only trusted Jones to make short throws, something that defensive coordinators can game plan for next season.
It creates uncertainty with the Giants’ evaluation of Jones, especially when factoring in the cost of signing him to a long-term deal.
According to Jordan Raanan of ESPN, any contract extension for Jones will likely have to start at $35 million per season and it might even be significantly higher. If he lands a deal with a $35 million AAV, Jones would rank ninth amongst the highest-paid quarterbacks.
Before making any cuts or contract restructures this offseason, New York has the fourth-most cap space in the NFL. If Barkley is tagged and Jones signs a multi-year deal, the Giants will likely have committed at least $30 million in cap space to both players for next season.
On the surface, that might not seem like a massive commitment in comparison to what other NFL teams will spend on their quarterbacks. However, there are still long-term questions about Jones’ ceiling as a passer and whether or not his flaws put restraints on the Giants’ offense.
While franchises typically prefer to sign their young quarterbacks to long-term deals that cover at least five seasons, the risk with Jones might push New York in a different direction. Instead of making a five-year commitment, both sides could explore a three-year contract that provides Jones and the Giants with the flexibility to get out of the original deal by 2025.