A year of success has earned Daniel Jones a pay raise and some job security.
The former first-round pick has cleared the first hurdle of his career. He knows he must now live up to the expectations that come with a four-year, $160 million deal.
"I've always felt that responsibility," Jones said Wednesday, less than 24 hours after agreeing to the new contract with New York. "Playing this position, especially for a team like the New York Giants and this city, you have that responsibility. I take that very seriously.
"It certainly doesn't change. I certainly do feel that and it's my goal to earn that every day and in the offseason while we're preparing for the season, and then when we get to the season, you know, doing my best and preparing this team to win games and me to put us in a position to that. So, yeah -- I take that responsibility very seriously."
Jones was atop New York's list of priorities prior to the start of the new league year, which was a stark shift in focus compared to a year ago, when the Giants declined to pick up the Duke product's fifth-year option and left the quarterback's fate in his hands with only one year remaining on his rookie contract. Jones answered the call in 2022, posting a career-best 3,205 passing yards, a 15-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and finishing with 708 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, the most in his four-year tenure with the Giants. With Jones leading the way, New York surprised the NFL world, finishing 9-7-1 and reaching the playoffs, where the Giants upset the Minnesota Vikings with a win on Super Wild Card Weekend before falling to the eventual NFC champion Eagles in the Divisional Round.
2022 was a resounding success, and it convinced New York to keep Jones for the long haul.
"Yeah, I would say if I thought I was going to be here a year ago, I would've done the fifth-year option," general manager Joe Schoen said on Wednesday. "You know, but, again, I knew from doing work on Daniel coming out in the draft that the type of person he was. From everybody in the building, the type of person he was. His work ethic, he has all the physical tools, he's athletic, he can make all the throws. Just the situation he was in, I do think you have to look into that, like year two and three, what he went through. The talent that was around him, the injuries. There was a lot that went into it.
"But being around Daniel for the last 13 months and seeing to him play and the fourth-quarter comebacks and winning a playoff game on the road, there's a lot of positives that a 25-year-old young man just displayed throughout the season. The upside, I got a lot of belief in our staff and Daniel's work ethic and their relationship that, you know, will continue to grow and Daniel can get to the better. If he's just at his floor right now, I'm real excited about what his ceiling's gonna be."
The four-year deal cemented Jones' role in the Giants' future, and allowed New York to turn to its other priorities -- namely, running back Saquon Barkley -- just before the franchise tag deadline passed at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
Barkley received the franchise tag, which will keep him in New York for 2023 and buys the Giants time to continue to work on a long-term deal with the running back who enjoyed a resurgent season in 2022 and gave the club reason to believe he can stand alongside Jones as a key part of the team's future.
"In a situation like this you're trying to do what's best for you and your family while also balancing being part of a team, understanding the goals and the vision that we have as a team and as an organization," Jones said of the negotiation process and how it pertained to Barkley's future. "That was certainly important to me throughout the deal and I think we found a way to do both those things and do it the right way for both sides. Saquon -- he means a ton to me as a teammate and as a friend and means a ton to us as a player. I won't talk about his business, but that was a piece of it, too."
The Giants are keeping two young players coming off career years, and after enduring a cap-strapped 2022 season (which included the release of cornerback James Bradberry, solely out of financial necessity), Schoen has New York in a better position. With a decent amount of cap space to work with, Schoen has room to breathe while attempting to improve the roster. Such a process should include a close look at receiver (such as a potential release of Kenny Golladay) and parts of the defense (both in adding new pieces and extending Dexter Lawrence), and could include a longer deal for Barkley than the one year guaranteed by the tag.
"Yeah, I'm going to talk to Saquon today. I talked to him yesterday before, you know, we put the franchise tag on him," Schoen said. "So, again, we've had deals out, whether it's the bye week or recently and we're going to continue to negotiate. We love Saquon. He's a good teammate. He's a captain. He's a helluva player, so right now, he's under the franchise tag and you know, as we build the team and continue with our offseason plan, we'll do what's best for the team and we're still mapping that out."
The work has only just begun for Schoen. Fortunately, he's shored up his most important position.