It’s not often that starting quarterbacks hit free agency, and the 2023 offseason is shaping up to be pretty unique in that regard.
The two signal callers that standout are Daniel Jones of the New York Giants and Geno Smith of the Seattle Seahawks - both individuals took their teams to the playoffs after being maligned for most of their careers. Smith has publicly expressed optimism over a contract extension with the Seahawks, but things seem to be taking a much different path for Jones and the Giants.
Just this week Jones fired his representation, and this development comes less than a month before the onset of the NFL’s free agency period. Per Pro Football Talk (PFT), the veteran quarterback is looking for $45M annually as part of a new deal:
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.
Sure, the Giants have the leverage of using the league’s franchise tag - which carries a one-year value of around $32.5M for 2023. There’s also no denying that the situation New York finds themselves in is largely self-inflicted, as they declined Jones’ fifth-year option and paved the way for him to reach free agency.
The Giants are being held hostage by a player whose career they helped revive, and if the options are truly down to a $45M per year contract extension or the franchise tag, it’s time to explore the alternatives.
And the first plan B that comes to mind is Baker Mayfield, who spent the second half of last season with the Los Angeles Rams.
If Giants head coach Brian Daboll can help turn Jones - formerly one of the league’s most mistake-prone signal callers - into a serviceable starter, what can he accomplish with a former number one overall draft pick in Mayfield?
We know Mayfield can make every throw on the football field. His natural arm talent was immediately evident when he took the field as a Ram, and it was a noticeable upgrade over John Wolford and Bryce Perkins. But while Mayfield was one of the most athletic, improvisational quarterbacks at the college level, that same skillset has not translated well to the NFL where all defenders are elite athletes.
When Mayfield plays within himself and the offensive scheme, he’s demonstrated that he can be a top-15 starting quarterback in the NFL - and he has to ceiling to even reach beyond that. Trying to do too much will result in turnovers and mistakes, but that’s something that Daboll was able to coach out of Jones - why can’t he strike lightning twice?
So if the Giants have to choose between paying Daniel Jones $32.5M to $45M in 2023 or Baker Mayfield maybe between $10M to $25M (if even that), doesn’t the choice seem fairly clear?
If Jones continues to hold the Giants hostage, it’s time for them to consider alternative options at quarterback - and Mayfield should be the first name atop the list.