Quarterback Daniel Jones, seeking a new contract from the New York Giants as free agency looms in less than a month, has reportedly decided to change agents. Jordan Ranaan of ESPN tweeted Sunday night that Jones is “in the process” of changing agencies from Creative Artists Agency (CAA) to Athletes First.
Pro Football Talk reported that the NFL’s in-house database now lists Athletes First as the agency representing Jones. The NFLPA database, accessible to media, does not currently list representation for Jones. PFT reports that could change as early as Monday.
What does all this mean?
Well, that is a good question.
In his tweet breaking the news, Ranaan added “Not sure how much impact it will have, but it’s at least interesting.”
Dan Duggan of The Athletic called the move “a fascinating change.”
Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post tweeted that negotiations between Jones and the Giants “got off to a much bumpier start than expected.”
The switch certainly adds intrigue to the situation. To me, it is a clear indication that Jones was not happy about something.
So what does Jones want? There are two possibilities. One, he’s willing to do a deal for less than CAA was willing to accept. Two, he wants more than CAA was able to get.
As one source explained it, it’s the latter. Jones wants more than the Giants have offered. Possibly as much as $45 million per year, or more.
The New York Post reports that Athletes First has negotiated the largest deal in NFL history (at the time) on five occasions. Athletes First represents quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers (No. 1 in the NFL in average annual value), Dak Prescott, DeShaun Watson (five years, $230 million fully guaranteed) and Matt Ryan.
So, yes, this could be a power move by Jones.
This could also increase the likelihood of the Giants being forced to use the franchise tag on Jones, something former New York Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum predicted recently on the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast:
The franchise tag window opens on Tuesday, and teams have until March 7 at 4 p.m. ET to apply a tag. So, the window for the Giants to make a decision on whether or not to use the $32.416 million tag on Jones is now compressed.
If the Giants applied the franchise tag to Jones, the two sides would have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal. If that does not happen, Jones would have to play out the season on the tag.
Giants general manager Joe Schoen has been clear that Jones will be back with the Giants next season. The free agency negotiating window opens March 13 and the signing period March 15. Those dates looming in less than a month again compress the time frame and increase the possibility of the Giants applying the franchise tag.
The Giants, of course, did not pick up Jones’ fifth-year option before the 2022 season. With a new coach and GM, and uncertainty around whether or not Jones was the team’s answer at quarterback, that was the proper decision at the time. Now, though, it puts them in a tricky spot.
Could all of this affect Saquon Barkley?
Over The Cap currently lists the Giants with $46.993 million in cap space, fourth-most in the league entering free agency.
If the Giants have to use the tag on Jones, the entire $32.416 million would count against the 2023 cap. That would leave only about $14 million. Yes, the Giants will gain space when they release Kenny Golladay ($6.7 million pre-June 1, $13.5 million post-June 1) and they could extend Leonard Williams’ contract to lower his $32.26 million 2023 cap hit.
Still, it would mean the Giants would have to be creative to keep Barkley at the $13 million or more average annual value he appears to be seeking. Especially if they want to have the flexibility to do more than shop in the free agent bargain bin this time around.
So, the move by Jones is an interesting twist that adds to the intrigue of the next few weeks.