An hour after the conclusion of the New York Giants 38-10 Week 17 demolition of the Indianapolis Colts my dad came up the stairs from our basement lathered in sweat from a recent workout.
I was washing a dish and said “they officially did it, huh,” referring to the Giants clinching their first postseason berth since 2016.
My father, still somewhat catching his breath from what I presume was a ride on the Peloton, grabbed the energy for a quick smirk and said the words my prideful ears hate to hear.
“Are you going to tell me I was right?”
He was and I knew it, the proof was all around me. I conceded with a quick laugh and a nod of the head.
What was my old man right about? That after struggling in his first three NFL seasons, Giants quarterback Daniel Jones had the potential to be successful in the NFL, even if under the microscope of the hasty, overly critical New York market.
Once destined for bust status, aided by a new coaching staff and a resurgent Saquon Barkley as his backfield partner, Jones proved most of his doubters wrong this season. The number six pick in the 2019 draft overcame a lack of receivers and inconsistent offensive line play, leading New York to the divisional round and its first playoff victory since Super Bowl 46.
As the quarterback affectionately nicknamed “Danny Dimes” gets closer to being “Danny Dollar Signs,” with the Giants likely to give him a contract extension, General Manager Joe Schoen has the task of providing Jones with a supporting cast capable of showing if he’s a quarterback the Giants can win with.
Might have been Daniel Jones 2nd best throw of the game
Also yes a true WR1 would absolutely make Daniel Jones throw this ball more pic.twitter.com/HnMnIaGCZ0
— Bobby Skinner (@BobbySkinner_) January 17, 2023
Bring Back Barkley
After winning the Rookie of the Year award in a mesmerizing debut season and following that up with another 1,000 yard campaign in 2019, Barkley was marred by injuries in the 2020 and 2021 seasons. This season, Barkley returned to superstar form, setting a career high with 1,312 rushing yards and scoring 10 touchdowns. Like Jones, Barkley is heading towards free agency off of a strong season and is expected to be compensated for it.
Ralph Vacchiano of Fox Sports reported that Barkley is looking for a contract equivalent to the $16 million a year Christian McCaffrey has and that the two-time Pro Bowler has previously rejected a contract worth $12 million a season.
If an extension can’t be reached, Schoen should not hesitate to put the franchise tag on Barkley, a move that would make his cap hit $10.1 million for the upcoming season.
Saquon Barkley go ahead playoff touchdown pic.twitter.com/afg1mLkzaf
— Dear Old State (@_DearOldState) January 16, 2023
A Fan Favorite Must Return
From the Kadarius Toney saga which ended with him being traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, the injuries to rookie second-round pick WanDale Robinson and Sterling Shepard, his 6-foot-4, $76 million receiver, ineffectively languishing on the bench, Daniel Jones has had no luck with receivers.
If I’m Schoen, a maximum of three receivers from last year’s roster are returning. Robinson, who showed himself as a weapon in his brief time on the field and is only going into his second season, will likely start in the slot. The other receiver who should be donning a Giants uniform again is Isaiah Hodgins. Schoen picked up Hodgins off waivers from the Buffalo Bills, his former team. Calling him a gift would be an understatement. Hodgins arrived at MetLife Stadium with four career catches. In eight regular season games, he had 33 catches for 451 yards and four touchdowns. In the Giants Wild Card victory over the Minnesota Vikings, Hodgins had eight catches for 105 yards and a score.
The potential of bringing back Sterling Shepard as a veteran leader is intriguing, but considering he has only played 32 games since 2018 and 10 in the last two seasons, so I wouldn’t invest heavily.
Draft a receiver, Sign a receiver, Just get receivers
To build a solidified quartet of receivers with Hodgins and Robinson, the Giants need to bring in two players at the position.
In the trade market both Arizona Cardinals star DeAndre Hopkins and Brandin Cooks of the Houston Texans are expected to be on new teams. Both players are leaving rebuilding organizations and Cooks specifically has said he does not want to be part of a rebuild. Both players are obvious number one receivers, but Cooks feels like the ideal New York Giant in my eyes. The 29-year-old has surpassed the 1,000 yard barrier six times in his nine-year career and had 57 catches for 699 yards and three touchdowns in a poor situation last season with Houston. He is not only a proven veteran for a quarterback in desperate need of one, but brings a desire to win and veteran leadership that should appeal to Head Coach Brian Daboll.
If the team acquired a high-end receiver via a trade, the Giants would not need to take a receiver in the first round of the NFL Draft. A receiver like Tennessee’s Jaylin Hyatt, SMU’s Rashee Rice or Oklahoma’s Marvin Mims Jr. that may be available on the second day of the draft and has the ability to create vertical separation would be an ideal fit to replace Darius Slayton in New York’s offense.
Getting a veteran option to lead the receiving core is the ideal scenario. A year ago the Giants’ crosstown neighbors, the New York Jets were in a similar situation, finding themselves in need of a number one receiver to support a young quarterback. After striking out on multiple proven stars via trade, the Jets, who already had Corey Davis and Elijah Moore through the previous years free agency and draft, selected Garrett Wilson 10th in last year’s draft in hopes of him emerging as the lead receiver.
The Giants, who already have WanDale Robinson, the Moore equivalent in this hypothetical, must sign a veteran and draft another receiver in the first round. The Giants free agency pursuits could be altered if the team decides to retain Darius Slayton, but considering his drop issues and how he was almost released from the team during training camp, I find that to be unlikely.
The receiver I’d go all in on if I was Joe Schoen is Allen Lazard. He wasn’t completely out of his depth as Aaron Rodgers’ No. 1 target when he had to be and is a proven, consistently productive deep threat. Last season Lazard had 60 catches for 788 yards and six touchdowns, a season after he had found the end zone eight times. Is Lazard going to carry your receiving core? Absolutely not. Can he be a cog in the Daboll machine? Probably and In a weak receiver free agency class, that may be worth finding out.
However, in a free agent class lacking high end receiver talent, a player like Lazard may prove to be too expensive for the Giants’ liking. My safety net: Marvin Jones Jr. He’s probably not going to return to his peak form, but as proven this season with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Marvin Jones can still contribute. The veteran had 46 catches, accruing 529 yards and three scores. Jones won’t be too expensive, has a good track record of contribution and can act as a trusted veteran in the locker room. This would be a home run.
Remember when Allen Lazard put up 140 yards and a touchdown on Marshon Lattimore and the saints defense #GoPackGo
— Ćlassy (@classyalarm) August 23, 2022
Let Danny Ball
What Daniel Jones’ contract looks like remains a mystery. Something in the vicinity of $33-$38 million a season makes sense, considering the value of a franchise tag is around $33 million and the Giants may have to pay a little more to convince him to sign long term. One way or another, I’d expect Jones to be back in blue next season.
While he may forever have some doubters, Jones seems to have convinced the higher-ups in the organization that he can lead New York to its first period of sustained success since the early days of Eli Manning.
With that said, the main objective for the Giants this offseason is simple. Give Jones a supporting cast that can show how capable he truly is.