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Big Blue View mailbag: Daniel Jones, Aaron Robinson, more

The mail’s here!

With OTAs in the books and only mandatory mini-camp remaining in the New York Giants offseason program, let’s open the Big Blue View Mailbag and see what questions we can answer.

Jeff Bergman asks: - On the contract options, it seems everything I see written suggests that if the Giants keep Jones, the choices are a long-term deal or the franchise tag. Is there a middle ground with “fair” starter money with a short term “prove it” element? (Not all NBA players get a max deal) Are there any examples you can think of where a QB got something with guaranteed starter money in year one with options that let the team get out if he was not the guy and the player compensated like a starter if he performs?

- What if Jones proves to be competent but not elite? What if he is ranked above the league median but not top tier - good enough to compete for the playoffs but not a Super Bowl. Do you think the Giants would look to move on?

Ed says: Jeff, let me take those in reverse.

If you put any stock in Chris’ Simms top 40 quarterback rankings, Daniel Jones is already not far from that “above the league median” ranking. Simms has Jones at No. 21. With a better offensive scheme, better offensive line and healthy playmakers it isn’t hard to envision Jones ending up in the top 15 starting quarterbacks.

Honestly, what the Giants would do at that point is a gray area and I’m not sure. Hopefully, Jones makes it easy by either being really good or really bad. We know the 2023 NFL Draft is supposed to have several first-round caliber quarterbacks. We also know the hit rate for first-round quarterbacks turning into top-tier or Pro Bowl-caliber quarterbacks is somewhere around 30 percent. With those numbers, would the Giants want to move on from Jones if they think he’s a mid-tier guy and take a shot at someone new?

I suspect they would, because of the money and the fact that they inherited Jones rather than choosing him. I think, though, we have to let the year play out to have a better read on that.

As for price, there are 12 quarterbacks making $30 million or more annually and three more making at least $25 million. That’s 15. So, that puts the median quarterback price at about $25 million per year. A year from now, that might be $30 million per year.

There are options in a lot of contracts, but more and more large amounts of quarterback contracts are guaranteed, sometimes the full amount. If the Giants still aren’t sure about inking Jones to a long-term deal after this year, the organization would have to decide whether to spend more than $30 million to use the franchise tag or start over. To me, odds are they start over.

David Matuozzi asks: While the defense should benefit from Wink’s aggressive scheme as well as the addition of Kayvon Thibodeaux, our CB situation and specifically the starting gig opposite Adoree’ Jackson present cause for concern. I’ve seen opinions from some writers that suggest our entire defensive effort could be sabotaged by the lack of an established starter at CB2.

I initially thought the outlook on that side of the ball was bleak for that very reason as well. But then, I recalled two years ago when we were starting the likes of Isaac Yiadom and still fielded a top 10-12 unit. Is Robinson really that much worse than Yiadom, or is Wink’s philosophy so much more dependent on CB play than Graham’s, that it would be unrealistic to expect our defense to be any good without an upgrade at CB2?

Ed says: David, who is saying that Isaac Yiadom is a better player than Aaron Robinson? As far as I know, the answer to that is no one. The Denver Broncos had Yiadom and dumped him to the Giants. After a year, the Giants dumped him on the Green Bay Packers. He played in seven games, had a Pro Football Focus grade of 31.0 and is now a member of the Houston Texans. He has a career passer rating against of 114.3.

Yiadom played because there was no one else, and Patrick Graham worked around his deficiencies by playing a lot of soft zone coverage that allowed Yiadom to keep the ball in front of him. His passer rating against that season was 126.4, a career worst.

Robinson is a developing player who has a chance to become a starter in the league. He hasn’t proven that yet, but there is reason to be optimistic.

As for philosophy, Wink Martindale’s defensive scheme is without doubt more dependent on quality man-to-man coverage cornerbacks than was Graham’s. Graham is an excellent defensive coordinator, but not an incredibly aggressive one when it comes to pressure. In 2020, when the Baltimore Ravens were healthy and Martindale could call defense the way he wanted, the Ravens led the league by blitzing 44.1 percent of the time. The Giants blitzed 26.9 percent of the time.

Martindale needs cornerbacks — as well as linebackers and safeties — who can hold up in man coverage without help. Graham liked to use the secondary as a coordinated unit in an attempt to disguise coverages and deceive quarterbacks.

Jim Moriarty asks: Humor me on this one. Do you think that the Giants would still have Gettleman (and Judge) if the one thing we praise him for (the first-round trade last year) did not happen? Instead, he drafted Rashawn Slater, who most of us wanted after the receivers were gone? Slater turned into a stud, and would have helped last year’s line immensely, either at RT or LG. Would Getty got credit for fortifying the line? How much better would the offense have been? Would there be no “Clown organization” comments or 2 straight sneaks by Judge? Of course we will never know, but I wonder...

Ed says: Jim, let me try to take the Dave Gettleman and Joe Judge portions of your question separately. I honestly think they are two separate circumstances with some common denominators.

I don’t think there is a single decision you can look at and say ‘that cost Gettleman his job.’ You have to look at the accumulation and the complete lack of progress. Four straight double-digit loss seasons, culminating in the 4-13 2021 season. Failures with two coaching staffs, though those hires were made by ownership. A roster without premier talent. Example after example of places where the Giants, under Gettleman, did not maximize value when they had opportunities.

I would still argue that the Giants did the right thing when they traded down a year ago. For maybe the only time in Gettleman’s tenure, maximizing value. Yes, it would have been nice to have Rashawn Slater on the offensive line or Micah Parsons on the defense. Yes, we still don’t know if Kadarius Toney will prove to be the right choice at No. 20.

But, here is what that trade netted the Giants when you put all the pieces together: Toney, Aaron Robinson, Evan Neal, Daniel Bellinger. With that foursome, I’d say chances are the Giants absolutely come out ahead for having made that deal.

Gettleman lost his job because of the reality that the Giants lost too many games and it became clear the Giants needed new ideas. Not because of any single decision.

When it comes to Joe Judge, I absolutely believe the last thing John Mara and Steve Tisch wanted to do was fire him. When the Giants were 4-7 after being the Philadelphia Eagles, I would have told you there was no chance that would happen.

Then, Daniel Jones got hurt, we saw how truly incompetent as NFL quarterbacks Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm were, how terribly under-manned the Giants roster was, how poorly coached the Giants were with a staff largely made up of Judge’s college buddies, and, finally, Judge exposed for all the world how little faith he had in his players.

Giants ownership, after firing Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur after two seasons, promised Judge a long leash to change the Giants. They desperately wanted to give it to him.

Judge, though, did himself in. His six-minute answer to a question I asked in mid-December showed a desperate coach. The two-quarterback sneak embarrassment of a game that featured an obvious ‘minimize the ugliness’ game plan against the Chicago Bears showed a coach who had clearly lost faith in his players. His post-game 11-minute answer showed a coach who had clearly lost his way.

Had Judge given Giants ownership anything to believe in rather than letting the second half of the season unravel to the point where the Giants were an embarrassment, he would have stayed. The Giants would have hired a GM aligned with Judge and moved forward on that path.

Instead, they knew they had to go outside their comfort zone and find a GM with new ideas. They knew the presence of Judge, who had become a target of ridicule in the national media, would handicap that search. So, they moved on.

The head coach really left them no choice.

Bob Donnelly asks: Given the economics of today’s NFL along with the supposedly deep QB class on the horizon, I wondered if your odds for him being a Giant next year are way too high.

There are a few converging factors.

First, there’s The performance level that must be achieved for the new GM/HC/OC to see him as the starting quarterback in 2023.

Second, as a free agent Daniel having proved he is a good NFL QB, has a say in where he will sign for 2023. Checking off the first box above means he will have options. It’s feasible that another team will offer him a contract (Dollars/Years/Guaranteed $) beyond what the Giants would meet.

Lastly, Should Jones achieve that level of play, contrasting his value (defined as a cost/performance type ratio as well as shelf-life) to that of the possible replacement is tricky. Drafting his replacement may provide a lower salary hit, but it may also carry an organizational talent hit depending on the Giant’s 2023 draft position and any cost of moving up to get the next Franchise QB. Yes, the Franchise Tag is an option, but may simply be kicking the can down the road one more year with the same circumstances, but even more expensive solutions.

So it may be a very narrow window that sees Daniel Jones as a Giant in 2023. Underperform the Giants move on from Jones. Stellar performance and Jones moves on from the Giants.

Your thoughts?

Ed says: Bob, short answer to a long question. If Jones underperforms, the Giants move on. Stellar performance, there’s no way they let him get away. If they come out of 2022 believing he is a franchise guy — which I have previously said I think the odds are against — they will pay him as such and keep him.