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Giants convinced Daniel Jones can be their franchise quarterback

John Mara said Daniel Jones "will have a

John Mara said Daniel Jones "will have a better team around him this year than in previous years." Credit: Getty Images/Patrick Smith

It’s an unprecedented NFL offseason that already has seen the movement of several big-name quarterbacks, may have a few others switch teams, and will also have an influx of talent that includes one player many believe to be the top prospect at the position in decades.

The Giants, however, have no interest hopping on that merry-go-round, even with brass rings such as Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson dangling for all to reach for. The reason? They like what they have.

They ended the 2020 season convinced that Daniel Jones is their franchise quarterback and they’ll head into 2021 with that same devotion, no matter who else becomes available.

"We’ve had Daniel for two years, we’ve done the evaluation on him, and we really believe he’s the guy," general manager Dave Gettleman said on Tuesday. "There’s no reason to go look."

That’s quite the endorsement for a quarterback who has won eight of his 26 career starts and has more turnovers (22 interceptions and 17 lost fumbles) than touchdowns (35 passing, three rushing) over his first two years in the NFL.

But the Giants see more in Jones than just numbers.

"What we’re doing isn’t fantasy football," Gettleman said. "We’re not doing that. We have a conviction on him. He’s everything we want. He has all the physical skills."

Gettleman doesn’t necessarily have a strong track record regarding such evaluations. He was the one who, based mostly on one strong game at the end of 2017 that he deemed was "not a mirage," decided that Eli Manning had plenty left in the tank, enough to try to build a winning team around him in his first offseason as Giants general manager. A four-win year later he drafted Jones.

Coach Joe Judge, though, echoed Gettleman’s assessment on Tuesday.

"We have confidence in Daniel," Judge said. "He’s a player that we want to work with going forward with this team. He’s shown us a lot of improvement. I can go on and on about how much we respect him and like him and how the locker room responds to him.

"The simple answer," he added, when asked about any potential interest in other quarterbacks, "is no."

For that faith in Jones to be rewarded, though, the Giants know they have to give him help. Gettleman said at the end of the season that finding offensive playmakers was a priority this offseason and the past few months have done little to alter that philosophy. Between free agency and the draft, expect the Giants to be in the market for wide receivers and tight ends who will serve as primary targets for Jones this season and beyond.

The team should also have a healthy Saquon Barkley back on the field this season after he missed most of 2020 with a torn ACL, although Gettleman seemed more restrained in long-term thinking with the running back than he is with his quarterback. He said Barkley’s recovery and history of injuries (he missed a month in 2019 with a high ankle sprain) is "part of the discussion" before the team begins negotiating a potential second contract with the former Offensive Rookie of the Year. Gettleman even suggested that the Giants will have to "make a decision" soon on whether they pick up Barkley’s fifth-year option.

Ultimately, it will be up to Jones to prove the Giants right for sitting out what may go down in NFL history as the offseason that saw more highly-talented quarterbacks on the market and on the move than ever before. Last season was one of evaluation for Jones; this season needs to become one of production.

"I say this all the time, the kid just finished his second year of NFL football," Gettleman said. "How many of us after two years at our new job were great? We all start at point A and we hopefully get to point Z, but the one common denominator is it takes time. Everybody has to understand that. We believe in Daniel and that’s where it is."

If that belief translates into victories, the Giants will be vindicated. If it does not, they may regret their inaction.

New York Sports