The New York Giants were one of the more entertaining stories in the NFL this season. They went from 4-7 to a nine-win playoff team. They even won a playoff game, their first since 2011.
Still, there’s plenty of work to be done in the big apple, starting with some crucial questions after their loss to the Eagles last week.
Is Daniel Jones the future under center in New York?
After declining Daniel Jones’ fifth-year option last April, the Giants now have to pay for Jones if they are convinced that he’s the answer under center.
During Monday’s end-of-season press conference, Giants GM Joe Schoen sounded convinced. However, when asked whether or not the team wanted Jones back next season, Schoen sounded like it was a foregone conclusion.
“We’re happy Daniel’s going to be here,” Schoen said (via The Athletic). “We’re happy he’s going to be here. Hopefully, we can get something done with his representatives. … And that would be the goal — to build a team around him where he can lead us and win a Super Bowl.”
What a difference a year makes. The Giants went from declining the fifth-year option to saying they wanted to build a team around Jones.
But the question remains: is Daniel Jones the future under center?
Jones took a ton of criticism for his first few years in the league. But, believe it or not, Jones has improved in some key areas each year. For example, Jones completion percentage has increased from 61.9 percent in his rookie season to 67.2 this season. Interceptions have also seen a year-over-year decrease down to five this season. Passing and rushing yardage were also career-bests for Jones this season.
We saw what Brian Daboll did for Josh Allen’s career in Buffalo, and Jones took a giant leap in year one under Daboll. So, it seems, for now, Jones is the answer for New York at quarterback.
Will Saquon Barkley be back next season?
With Jones seemingly in line for a considerable extension from the Giants, Saquon Barkley’s future gets a bit cloudier.
Schoen didn’t sound as confident when asked about Barkley returning next season during Monday’s end-of-season press conference:
“We would like to have Saquon back if it works out,” Schoen said.
That feels significantly different from Daniel Jones’s ringing endorsement from Schoen. But, of course, the running back position isn’t valued like the quarterback position these days. Running backs are usually just cycled out in four-year increments more often than not these days.
Barkley is in line to become a top-five running back when it comes to salary, and he’s made it clear that he wants to be in New York:
“I don’t want to jump to any conclusions. I’ve been vocal about how I feel and where I want to be. I wanted to show the Giants that they guy they drafted is still here. Everyone knows I would love to be a Giant for life”
The market for running back was set with Christian McAffrey and his $16 million average annual salary, with $30 million guaranteed at signing. However, Barkley said on Monday that he isn’t looking to reset the running back market.
“I’m realistic. I know what I was on pace to do. But having two years filled up with injuries and having a season not performing to the level that I know I can perform doesn’t help,” Barkley said. “But I think I was able to show the type of caliber a player I am — the things I am able to do on a football field. That is something I wanted to do. That was my goal. I was able to accomplish that.”
The Giants could kick the can with a $10 million franchise tag on Barkley.
Brian Daboll was a home run hire; now it’s Joe Schoen’s turn, right?
It was a wonderful year for the Giants. They hit a home run with their head coach hire. They turned the tides and got back into the playoffs. Daniel Jones took a significant leap in his development. Saquon Barkley had a resurgence. It was all good stuff for the Giants.
But they’re far from a finished product. Brian Daboll was a star in his first season as a head coach. But now it’s time for Joe Shoen to step to the plate.
He has two significant in-house decisions to make on Jones and Barkley. Then he has to improve the team through the draft and free agency.
If Saturday night’s loss to the Eagles taught us one thing, it’s that for as fun of a story as this team was, they’re nowhere near competing for championships.