Daniel Jones took his agents, and some family members and friends out to dinner Tuesday night after signing his new four-year, $160 million contract with the New York Giants.
He knew what the expectation was.
“I picked up the tab,” he said.
Jones also knows that is just the beginning of the expectations that will come with his new deal.
“I’ve always felt that responsibility playing this position, especially fore a team like the New York Giants in this city. You have that responsibility and I take that very seriously,” Jones said. “It certainly doesn’t change. I certainly do feel that and it’s my goal to earn that every day — in the offseason when we’re preparing for the season and then when we get to the season doing my best preparing this team to win games and put us in a position to do that.”
Jones is coming off the best season of his four-year career. He led the team to a 9-7-1 regular season record, won a playoff game, set career bests in yards passing, completion percentage, interception percentage, rushing yards and passer rating. He led four fourth-quarter comebacks and five game-winning drives.
Most importantly, he proved to a skeptical first-year general manager and head coach that they did not need to look elsewhere for a franchise quarterback.
Jones called the Giants organization a “special place ... a special organization to be a part of.”
“I wanted to find a way to work it out,” Jones said. “That was very much my mindset, and I’m glad we did.”
He said he was in the Giants’ facility and that it was precisely 3:53 p.m., seven minutes before the deadline, when his agents at Athletes First informed him a deal had been struck.
Via Spotrac, Jones’ deal breaks down like this:
The contract includes $82 million in guaranteed money. There is a $19 million 2023 cap hit and a $45 million cap hit in 2024, when the salary cap his expected to rise from $224.8 million to a projected $256 million.
The Giants are protected because they can get out of the contract after two seasons if they choose by taking an $18 million dead money hit in 2025 and saving $21.5 million, or in 2026 by taking a $9 million dead money hit in 2026 and saving $47.5 million.
Jones, of course, gets $82 million guaranteed and an average annual value that puts him in the top tier of quarterback salaries.
“You’re not going to get everything you want in a negotiation. Rarely is that ever going to happen,” said Giants GM Joe Schoen. “I think that goes for both sides. There was give and take ... at the end of the day each side had to give a little bit. That’s why it went down to the wire.
“We’re happy we were able to get it done.”
The Giants probably gave a little more financially than they had initially hoped to. For Schoen, though, the most important factor was getting a deal done without having to use the $32.416 million quarterback franchise tag.
“I wanted to know we had our quarterback here, and it wasn’t a franchise tag type deal,” Schoen said. “To me that was a worst-case scenario, putting the franchise tag on him. But I also knew I had that as a tool, so the deal had to make sense for the franchise both short-term and long-term. That’s what was important to me.
“I think both parties were happy at the end.”
Jones also said he was happy to have avoided the franchise tag.
“I think it’s better for the team. It gives us a little more flexibility, and that’s an important component to it,” Jones said. “I wanted to be here. I wanted to find a way to work it out so that it was good for both sides, and it worked. And it allowed us to have an opportunity to do what’s best for us going forward. So, I think that was a key component to it. I think we did that.”
The Giants would not have made this deal with Jones, which is based more on what they think he can do for them going forward than it is on his past performance, if Schoen and coach Brian Daboll did not think they could win a Super Bowl with Jones.
“Yeah, yeah, I mean that’s the goal, everybody’s goal is to win a Super Bowl,” Schoen said. “The coaching staff has confidence in him. As an organization we have confidence in him. We’re going to continue to build the team around him. That’s [the Super Bowl] the ultimate goal.”
Whether or not Jones and the Giants ever get to that promised land is to be determined. Right now, though, the deal plays as a win-win for the Giants and Jones.
Jones gets paid. He gets to stay in the place he wanted to be, with the only NFL team he has played for. He gets to do that in 2023 without facing another prove-it season that would leave his future in doubt.
The Giants get the quarterback they wanted, and they get some financial flexibility after avoiding using a tag that would have crippled their ability to upgrade the 2023 roster. They also get some wiggle room to extricate themselves from the contract a couple of years down the road should it not pan out.
Now, we just wait to see if Schoen and Daboll are able to continue adding pieces around their quarterback, and how this all plays out over the next couple of seasons.