The Giants didn’t make any roster moves at quarterback this offseason, deciding to stick with Daniel Jones rather than jump into a frantic marketplace that includes a number of options via trade and the draft and nearly half of the league seemingly poised to make dramatic decisions regarding the most important position in the sport.
That doesn’t mean they want the same guy back at the position in 2021, though.
John Mara made it clear on Wednesday that as Jones enters his third season in the NFL the Giants are expecting a jump.
"We want to see him take the next step," the team’s co-owner said.
And what does that entail, exactly?
"I don’t know if there are any specific benchmarks other than let’s win some more games."
The Giants have certainly given Jones the tools to do that in 2021. A spending spree that included more than $100 million in guaranteed money in three big contracts — wide receiver Kenny Golladay, cornerback Adoree’ Jackson and an extension for defensive lineman Leonard Williams — made the Giants one of the most successful teams this offseason with the goal of having that optimism and euphoria carry into the regular season and perhaps the postseason.
"I think he will have a better team around him this year than he has had in previous years," Mara said of Jones. "Surrounding Daniel with more weapons was certainly a priority coming in, but that would be true no matter who the quarterback is. You always want to put as many weapons on the field as possible. It’s become more and more of a passing league and we saw an opportunity there for guys who have some talents and hopefully it pays off."
Not just for Jones, but for Mara himself. The disappointment of most of the past decade — since the Giants won the Super Bowl after the 2011 season they have made the postseason just once — has gotten very old for the guy who has to try to explain the failures and is on his fifth coach during that span.
So while Golladay and other signings including John Ross and Kyle Rudolph seem like gifts for Jones, Mara is hoping he gets a personal return on his investment as well.
"It’s been brutal the last few years and we’re looking forward to turning it around and not having to make excuses for why we haven’t done it," Mara said. "I’m tired of the losing. It’s time for us to start winning some more. That’s one of the reasons we spent the money like we did."
All of which comes back to Jones. None of the big contracts and flashy additions will mean a lick if Jones does not produce. It’s up to him to make them pay off.
"We think the world of Daniel in this building," Mara said. "I know our coaches feel very strongly about him… I want to see him continue to improve because I think he does have what it takes to be a long-term winner in this league."
Notes & quotes: Mara said he wants Saquon Barkley to be "a Giant for life" and that the team expects the running back to return from his torn ACL "as good as new," but there is no urgency on the part of the organization to work out a contract with him. "We’re not in hurry to do that at this point in time, particularly after the money we just spent," Mara said. Barkley is entering the fourth year of his rookie deal, which is normally when franchise-type players are extended. His knee injury in Week 2 of the 2020 season threw that schedule off, even if it has not affected the overall desires of the team … Roger Goodell said this week he’d like to see all games played in full stadiums in 2021, something Mara said the Giants are "hopeful" about having and working toward with the New Jersey governor’s office. "That would be a huge plus for our players and our fans and our organization," Mara said.