The New York Giants world and potential future changed in an instant when Daniel Jones tore his ACL this past Sunday. That new reality is what lead to this weeks’ SB Nation Reacts poll for Giants’ fans:
“Will Daniel Jones be the Giants’ starting quarterback in 2024?”
It’s a blunt question, but also one with some important nuance.
A week ago, the Giants Jones returned a week earlier than expected from the disc injury he suffered against the Miami Dolphins. While his return probably wouldn’t have been enough to save a nightmare season, it might have given the team a chance to staunch the bleeding and get things back on track for 2024 and beyond.
Fifteen minutes of game clock later, Jones was lost for the remainder of 2023 and we don’t currently know what his timeline will be.
Giants wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson was able to return from his own torn ACL in 10 months, 1 day (including his two inactive weeks to start the season). Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, meanwhile, is due to make his return from a torn ACL this Sunday — 11 months to the day after his injury.
Complicating matters is the four-year, $160 million contract he signed earlier this year. As has been well covered here, the contract is structured such that the guaranteed money is paid out in 2023 and 2024. But unlike other big quarterback contracts, Jones has no guarantees unless he is on the roster on the fifth day of the 2025 league year. At that point, $12 million becomes fully guaranteed — though the number would rise to $23 million in the case of injury. The Giants would have to carry about $18 million in dead money if they move on from Jones after 2024. But considering Giants are currently paying Leonard Williams, Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, and Logan Ryan a combine $46.8 million, $18 million is hardly ideal, but not that bad.
All told, the contract locked Jones into the Giants plans for the first two years, but left the door open for the team to move on if necessary.
As things stand now, the Giants are carrying a 2-7 record with backup QB Tyrod Taylor also on the IR, and his status for the remainder of the season is unknown. They’ll be relying on UDFA rookie Tommy DeVito and journeyman Matt Barkley for the foreseeable future.
The Giants still have games against the Dallas Cowboys, Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles (2), New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams remaining on their schedule. The Giants currently hold the fourth overall pick and it’s possible that they don’t win another game this season. One current projection has the Giants edging out the Carolina Panthers for the worst record in the NFL and the first pick in the 2024 NFL draft.
We don’t yet know which quarterbacks will enter the upcoming draft, but this year’s class could be the best one in recent memory, and the Giants can’t plan on having their choice of quarterback prospects again. If the Giants draft a quarterback at the top of the first round, that would all but seal Jones’ fate for 2025. But then we circle back around to the injury clause in his contract and his uncertain timeline for recovery.
If the Giants draft a quarterback highly, can they afford to risk Jones getting another injury and adding $7million in dead cap money after 2024? He’s already had two disc injuries in the last three years before tearing his ACL. And if the Giants draft Caleb Williams or Drake Maye, can they justify moving him back to the bench if he’s playing well and Jones isn’t ready to start the season?
On the other hand, if the Giants draft a quarterback, could they roll the dice with Jones’ injury clause and use him like the Kansas City Chiefs used Alex Smith after drafting Patrick Mahomes?
As I said before: It’s a complicated question despite its bluntness, and SB Nation Reacts wants to know what you think.
Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NFL. Throughout the year we ask questions of the most plugged-in New York Giants fans and fans across the country. Sign up here to participate in the weekly emailed surveys.