The first year of Daniel Jones' four-year, $160 million contract didn't provide a quality return on investment.
Jones completed 108 of 160 pass attempts for 909 yards, two touchdowns and six interceptions. He was sacked 30 times in six games -- an average of five sacks taken per game -- and while he ran 40 times for 206 yards and a touchdown, he was beat up by opposing defenses far too often to find a comfort level appropriate to make plays. His struggles (and his career-low 70.5 passer rating) weren't all his fault, but he certainly didn't overcome the disadvantages.
Giants general manager Joe Schoen hasn't lost faith in Jones, even after Jones' first campaign played under a lucrative contract was a flop, concluding with a season-ending ACL injury suffered in early November.
"He's going to attack it," Schoen told reporters on Monday of Jones' path back to the field. "If you guys all know Daniel and his work ethic, he's probably a guy we will have to pull back.
"The expectation is when Daniel is healthy that he'll be our starting quarterback. At the end, we don't have a crystal ball in terms of how the rehab is going to go. Different patients respond differently in these surgeries whether there's swelling in the knee or any setbacks. Again, nobody has a crystal ball but that's the expectation moving forward."
There's reason to question how the Giants might proceed at quarterback. New York took a significant step back after overachieving en route to the playoffs in 2022, and even after defeating New England on Sunday, the Giants remain in a tie for last place in the NFC East at 4-8. Rookie quarterback Tommy DeVito, an undrafted free agent who wasn't expected to see the field at all in 2023, has led New York to two straight wins, a feat Jones could not complete before his season ended.
Jones wasn't put in a great position prior to his exit. New York failed to protect him adequately, and proved to be an overmatched team during a gauntlet of a first month and a half, in which the Giants lost to the Cowboys (currently 8-3), 49ers (8-3), Seahawks (6-5), Dolphins (8-3) and Bills (6-6). Their lone win in that span came against the lowly Arizona Cardinals, and required a frantic second-half comeback to accomplish.
An honest individual will admit the wins with DeVito weren't the prettiest, either. The Giants' problems extend beyond quarterback, but because it is the sport's most important position -- and because Jones is making significantly more money now than he was a year ago -- he will remain under a microscope.
He's also a topic of conversation because of how 2024 is setting up for the Giants, who at 4-8 are still in a position to finish with a high pick in the 2024 draft.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport on Nov. 12 that Schoen has attended games featuring some of college football's top passers this season.
This isn't a guarantee Schoen is going to spend New York's top pick on a quarterback. It is standard practice for NFL GMs to schedule weekend trips to locations adjacent to where their club is playing on Sunday. But his selections have been interesting, considering where the Giants stand in the disappointing 2023 campaign.
Schoen was afforded an opportunity to explain why he believes Jones remains the answer at quarterback for the Giants, and delivered a logical response.
"I've seen it," Schoen said on Monday. "You guys all saw last season, the guy (Daniel Jones) won 10 games, road playoff game for the Giants and you all saw the preseason. I think we got punched in the nose early on and dug ourselves a hole. We weren't able to get out of it and trying to right now. We still believe in Daniel."
Jones' contract is still relatively new, and if they wanted to move on from him, they'd have to carry a significant dead cap number ($33.3 million if traded prior to June 1, per Over The Cap) if traded prior to June 1. Considering how Schoen has been forced to dig New York out of an ugly cap situation left in former GM Dave Gettleman's wake, carrying such a significant dead cap number might be prohibitive to Schoen's larger plan.
The Giants can keep Jones on the roster as a highly paid backup, but such a move would further handcuff Schoen as he attempts to improve New York's roster. And such a drastic decision might seem short-sighted, considering Jones only played in six games in an injury-riddled 2023 before his year ended prematurely.
Backup Tyrod Taylor did a solid job of keeping the Giants' offense afloat in place of Jones earlier this season, underscoring the importance of having a veteran backup on the roster, before an injury forced the Giants to turn to DeVito. With this in mind, Schoen admitted New York will likely need to position itself for any scenario in 2024. The Giants don't want to find themselves in the same place the Cardinals began 2023 while awaiting Kyler Murray's return from an ACL injury, either.
"We don't have a crystal ball in terms of how the rehab is going to go (for Jones)," Schoen said, per NJ.com. "I think we're going to have to do something in the quarterback [room], whether it's free agency or the draft. We don't know when [Jones] is going to be ready. We'll have to address [quarterback] at some point."
Doing something in the draft doesn't necessarily mean spending their top pick on a quarterback. The Giants could add a valuable player elsewhere in an attempt to support Jones with quality talent. But it might be tempting for Schoen to spend the pick on a quality quarterback in April, especially after taking the time to watch a number of them in person in 2023.
"We'll take the best player available," Schoen said. "If the best player available for our team is at a certain position, we'll take him. We won't shy away from it."