Joe Schoen, general manager of the Giants speaks to reporters during...

Joe Schoen, general manager of the Giants speaks to reporters during the NFL Draft Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on March 1, 2022 in Indianapolis. Credit: Getty Images/Michael Hickey

Five seasons into his tenure with the Giants, everyone has an opinion on Daniel Jones. Very few of them are the same.

Maybe you see him as a potentially excellent quarterback perpetually hampered by the ineffective roster that surrounds him. Perhaps you think he has outstanding vacuum talent but lacks the ability and instinct to operate in the imperfect chaos that exists on nearly every down in the NFL. Are his injuries a concern? Could it be that he is a good quarterback in a league in which good no longer is good enough?

Whatever your take, it doesn’t really matter.

Unless you are Joe Schoen.

And at some point this coming week, the general manager of the Giants is going to have to ask himself a very simple question that will determine the future of the franchise:

Can I do better than Daniel Jones in this draft?

If the answer is yes, then Schoen needs to reach into his magical top hat and make it happen on Thursday.

If the answer is no, then, congratulations, the Giants probably (and finally) will select the No. 1 receiver Jones has lacked for most of his career and which the organization has lacked since its divorce from Odell Beckham Jr.

Whichever way things play out, the first round of this draft is going to be a Giant referendum on what the franchise’s top decision-maker truly, honestly, unabashedly thinks about Jones. Every decision Schoen and his crew make in the 2024 draft will provide a reflection on Jones and a glimpse into some of the deepest secrets they hold regarding the quarterback they inherited and have spent the past two years of their tenure here attempting to decode.

Jones himself recognizes that, even if he tries not to dwell on it.

“I think you can get into trouble when you try to think too much about some of those things and how it all works out,” he said this past week when he and the other players reported for the start of the offseason training program. “Yeah, like, your antenna for some of those dynamics and relationships [works]. I’m just focused on what I’m doing, and that’s my rehab, getting healthy, spending time with the guys and making sure we’re getting on the same page and having the best spring we can.”

He mustered as much bravado as he could and said he thinks he is the best option for the Giants (“I do, yes”) but also conceded that asking him about such bigger-picture issues would “be a better question for Joe and [coach Brian Daboll].”

It’s a line of topics they likely are mulling over right now.

Schoen has said a lot of straightforward and unequivocally nice things about Jones, that’s true. But nearly all of them come with backdoor outs.

He’s already committed to Jones — presumably healthy coming back from a torn ACL — as the Week 1 starter. Beyond that, he hasn’t said a word, which would fit neatly with a rookie on the roster.

Just this past week, Schoen said he would be “comfortable” going into the 2024 season with Jones as the starter— again, assuming a healthy knee — and backups Drew Lock and Tommy DeVito rounding out the position room. But he said it “could” happen, not that it would happen or that he hopes it happens.

Schoen is always shrewd enough to sound as if he has a conviction while giving himself just enough wiggle room to avoid having his own soundbites thrown back at him if and when he acts in the opposite direction. Smart guy.

Perhaps there is no better example of that talent than in what would appear to be the unmistakable volume of Schoen’s confidence in Jones that still echoes in the four-year, $160 million deal he gave the quarterback just last offseason.

Though that contract was massive, it’s very clear Schoen never saw it as permanent. It was and continues to be a placeholder deal for a player the Giants hoped would become more than a placeholder quarterback . . . all while hedging in case he did not.

When this past season ended, in fact, Schoen made a direct reference to the mathematics of that deal, which left the Giants an escape hatch with digestible dead money after just two seasons.

Speaking in January about loading up on receiver depth for 2023 and having several of those pieces underutilized, Schoen said: “You do a deal with Daniel and you see how it was structured, so you try to expedite the process and give him a chance to succeed.”

In other words, Jones was back on a tryout basis the moment he signed.

Oh, and spoiler alert: Jones did not succeed in 2023.

Also, if Schoen thought that contract was a marriage certificate, he wouldn’t have spent the past few months clubbing at every Pro Day and Tinder-swiping his way through every available passer in the upcoming draft . . . with the blessings of ownership.

Yes, he and Daboll look into the quarterback class every year. That’s smart business. But the investment of time and effort that the uppermost levels of the front office put into this round of investigations wasn’t just due diligence. Nor was it a smoke screen.

Schoen and the Giants were out looking for something specific. Something better than what they already have.

“It’s not just what you see on film at this particular position,” Schoen said of evaluating quarterbacks. “You can take what you see on film, but I think it’s equally as important what you can’t see on film and spending time with the prospects . . . The film is one thing, but also evaluating who they are as people and how they’ll fit into your culture and your franchise is equally important.”

Did they find it?

Schoen will tell us. Probably not overtly, that’s not his style. But what he does on Thursday will provide the answer.


Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months