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New York’s NFL franchises demanded our attention in 2022 because the Giants returned to the playoffs after a five-year absence and the Jets were relevant and intriguing much of the season with a young team that made a leap before falling back to Earth late.
Now here we are in the offseason and New York’s teams are in the epicenter of the action all over again.
In the near future — some people believe within the next couple of days — the Jets will know how to approach their quarterback situation for the 2023 season because they’ll know where they stand with Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers, New York’s top choice at quarterback despite the fact he’s on another team and not even certain he’s going to keep playing at age 39, is the player the Jets are banking on to be their starter next season.
Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas Jobs On Line
That’s Plan A for general manager Joe Douglas and coach Robert Saleh and Plan B disappeared Monday when Derek Carr agreed to sign with the New Orleans Saints.
So the Jets are dangling precariously. And both Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are holding the strings.
But the question has to be asked why are the Jets so committed to such uncertainty? How have they allowed themselves to be so openly dependent on landing a former MVP who didn’t play like one last season and might decide never to play again?
Jobs are at stake for the Jets.
The Jets brain trust of Saleh and Douglas understand 2023 will be their third season together. And they understand so far they’ve finished fourth in a four-team division the previous two years. And they also understand they’ve been under .500 each of those seasons.
Last year’s season-ending six-game losing skid didn’t help, either.
That’s why league sources close to both Saleh and Douglas privately say both men believe they would likely be fired after 2023 unless the team wins.
Jets Need To Win and Zach Wilson Ain’t It
It’s unclear what “win” means.
It might mean having to make the postseason. It might simply mean reaching double digit victories. But however success might be defined, both Saleh and Douglas are aware they need to reach it to have a good chance of keeping their jobs after next season.
And how do they do that?
Get the best quarterback possible.
The Jets are convinced they have a playoff caliber team with the exception of the quarterback position. Zach Wilson has been a disappointment his first two seasons.
So neither Saleh nor Douglas is comfortable entrusting their professional futures to a quarterback who so far has shown little sign of playing consistently or leading a locker room.
Not too many other quarterbacks about to be available in free agency are likely to guarantee that either, because they all come with significant flaws.
So Saleh and Douglas are going to take a home run swing for Rodgers if he’s available.
Giants Like Daniel Jones With Conditions
The Giants, meanwhile, believe they can trust quarterback Daniel Jones to some degree. But not the degree he wants.
So the team and the representatives for Jones have been meeting, often in person, over the past week to try to work out a new contract for the looming free agent.
Those negotiations continued Monday with both sides understanding there is a 4 p.m. deadline Tuesday that will definitely pause the negotiations At that point, absent a contract extension, the Giants will place a non-exclusive franchise tag on Jones worth $32.4 million.
So, again, barring a long-term deal by 4 p.m., Jones will be tagged, per sources.
And why has this reached this point? Because while the Giants want Jones to remain because he’ll be only 26-years-old in May, they don’t want to overpay.
They understand Jones has potential to improve and is a fit for New York and the club’s culture. But the Giants also know Jones has been solid but not great.
Jones, meanwhile, has been surrounded by often substandard talent. Surrounded by often substandard coaching. And his reps argue that once New York’s current coaching and improved talent have more time to take, Jones is going to take off.
And so, they argue, Jones should be paid like a quarterback who has shown signs of the coming flight.
Monday A Huge Day In Daniel Jones Talks
The difference between the sides, according to sources, is a deal worth about $35 to $39 million on a annual average the team wants and between $42 to $47 million Jones has been targeting.
Yes, the math is the sides have been as much as $48 to $50 million apart at times during the negotiations, per sources.
But Monday was a big day in this negotiation and it was quite possibly a winning day for the Giants. Because Monday both sides got new metrics and numbers of what quarterback contracts should be.
And the numbers favor the Giants’ argument.
Both Carr, Smith Deals Favor Giants Stance
One Monday, Derek Carr agreed to a four-year deal with the New Orleans for a reported $150 million over four years. The $37.5 million per season average is clearly in the range of what the Giants have been pitching to Jones.
Later Monday, quarterback Geno Smith agreed to a three-year contract with the Seattle Seahawks believed to be worth a maximum of $105 million. The base value is actually $75 million (and $25 million per season), according to a source. Smith, who was scheduled to hit free agency starting March 15, instead remains Seattle’s starter.
And aside from the contract’s impact in Seattle, Smith now factors in the Jones contract talks as well. That’s because Smith’s contract may help confirm the market for one of his old teams, per agent sources.
It’s not a stretch the Giants, armed with the Carr and Smith contracts, can carry those into the talks with Jones and his representatives. The club can say, “See, this is what a quarterback with some accomplishments but also some questions is actually worth.”
The Giants can make the case both the Carr and Smith deals are along the lines of the $35 to $37.5 million per year average they want for Jones.