How strong is Giants’ ‘faith’ in Daniel Jones? Examining New York’s QB plans

The New York Giants met with Russell Wilson last week. Then they signed Drew Lock. They have also heavily scouted all the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft, and they’ve spoken to teams about the possibility of trading up, presumably to take one.

And all of this comes one year after they gave a four-year, $160 million contract to Daniel Jones, a quarterback they continue to insist they expect to be their starter — if he’s healthy enough to play.

So what’s really going on with the Giants at the quarterback position? Giants general manager Joe Schoen insisted at the NFL Scouting Combine last month that “I have faith in Daniel as our starting quarterback.” But he also admitted the need to “address the position” because of the uncertain recovery timeline of Jones’ recovery from his torn ACL.

The Giants seem to be hedging their bets against Jones for the short term. But are they also plotting out new options for the long term? Is their “faith” in the 26-year-old Jones as strong as it was when they gave him that massive deal with $82 million in guaranteed money last March, or are they feeling “buyer’s remorse” as NFL Network’s Rich Eisen reported he heard at the combine?

Those are all good questions. So here’s an in-depth look at where the Giants stand at the quarterback position as the NFL begins to transition from free agency to the 2024 NFL Draft, what they’re thinking and what they might be planning, with the help of multiple sources from inside the Giants organization and around the league:

So, is Daniel Jones their franchise quarterback or not?

Yes. Probably.

As bad as Jones was in the first five games of last season, there are a lot of people very high up in the Giants organization who still believe in his ability — which is what FOX Sports reported back in November. They were not shaken by five bad games, most of which were played without Saquon Barkley, without left tackle Andrew Thomas, and behind a truly disastrous offensive line.

What has shaken their faith, one team source said, is his injury history. That seems to be more the history of neck injuries than his recovery from a torn ACL, which the Giants say has gone well. But the neck injuries — disc issues that neither the Giants nor Jones have ever fully explained — are worrisome. As Jones’ former trainer told FOX Sports in November, “The likelihood of reinjury, once it gets injured the first time, it’s definitely more susceptible moving forward.”

So yes, the Giants seem to believe in Jones’ ability to be their next Eli Manning as much as they did on March 7, 2023, when they gave him that blockbuster contract. But because he is an injury risk, they feel like they at least have to explore all their options — which is exactly what they are doing. Jones’ health does seem to be a big enough issue for the organization that it’s impossible to say they still believe he’s their long-term answer at quarterback.

Should the Giants move off of Daniel Jones?

Why did they meet with Russell Wilson?

The meeting was described as “exploratory,” which is what a team source said it was. And multiple NFL sources believe that Wilson — who has long been enamored with the idea of playing in New York — initiated the meeting, which happened on his way to meet (and sign with) the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The 35-year-old Wilson was looking for a starting job, though, and the Giants were “absolutely not” willing to offer him one, a team source said. If Wilson was interested in being a backup, the Giants might have been interested since he cost the Steelers only $1.21 million (the Broncos are also paying him $39 million not to play for them). Although even then, they understood it could have been messy to have a high-profile backup who clearly wanted to play sitting behind Jones all year.

Was Drew Lock promised a chance to compete for the starting job?

Well, Seattle Seahawks GM John Schneider said the Giants “basically sold (Lock) on the opportunity to compete to be the starter” when they signed him. Lock said that wasn’t true, and so did multiple Giants sources. The only potential starting opportunity that’s up for grabs, one source said, is at the start of the season if Jones isn’t ready to play.

Will he be? Schoen insisted Jones “hasn’t had any setbacks” in his recovery from knee surgery and “he should be ready for the start of training camp”. The Giants have been careful, though, not to make any promises beyond that. Lock said “There’s a possibility for me to get a lot of reps in OTAs,” which makes it sound like Jones won’t be doing much this spring, at least.

But Lock also said, “Daniel Jones is the starter of this team.” A team source insisted that is what Lock was told.

Is there a chance they’ll draft a new franchise quarterback with the sixth pick of the draft?

Yes, there’s a chance. They have scouted the top ones a lot and will continue to do so. That includes USC’s Caleb Williams, North Carolina’s Drake Maye, LSU’s Jayden Daniels and even Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy. If one of them fell to 6, it would absolutely be a consideration.

It sure seems like quarterbacks will go 1-2-3 in this draft, though, with the Bears, Commanders and Patriots all needing a franchise quarterback. And the Vikings, with two first-round picks now, seem ready to move up for a quarterback, possibly to 4 (the Cardinals) or 5 (the Chargers).

If any of the Big 4 make it to the Giants at 6, the most likely would seem to be McCarthy. The Giants like him, sources said, but enough to take him at 6? And would they even take the fourth-best quarterback just six picks into the draft, when they could conceivably end up with one of the best receivers, like Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison, LSU’s Malik Nabers, or Washington’s Rome Odunze?

Those are some big decisions they’ll make in the next few weeks.

Why J.J. McCarthy will be a top-10 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft

Would they really trade up into the top 3 to grab one of them?

Multiple league sources said the Giants have made inquiries about trading up. It should also be noted that they’ve talked to at least one team about trading down, so these conversations may be more due diligence than anything else.

Also, keep two other things in mind: For all the talk about trading out of the top-3 picks, there aren’t many people around the NFL that really think the Bears, Commanders or Patriots would do that when they all need a franchise quarterback. The Cardinals and Chargers at 4 and 5 certainly could trade down, but the Vikings — who just acquired a second first-round pick and can offer both 11 and 23 — probably can and will offer more than the Giants.

In other words, the Giants trading up seems unlikely, too.

What about taking a quarterback on Day 2?

This has always seemed like the more likely scenario: Either taking a quarterback in the second or third round, or trading back into the bottom of the first round for one. Of course, the latter part of that became less likely when they traded one of their two second-round picks for edge rusher Brian Burns.

The Giants hold the 47th overall pick (second round) and 70th (third round) on Day 2. It would probably take quite a fall for Oregon’s Bo Nix to get to the Giants, unless they were able to move up. Maybe Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. could make it to 47. South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler could be in play in Round 3.

But drafting a quarterback somewhere seems like it’s part of the Giants’ plan. It gives them a young player they can develop while Jones (or Lock) plays this year, and maybe gives them someone who can take over for Jones a year or two from now.

Is Marvin Harrison Jr. truly the BEST WR in the NFL Draft?

Where does all this leave Tommy DeVito?

It is a good thing “Tommy Cutlets” took full advantage of his 15 minutes of fame, because he doesn’t seem to be a big part of the Giants’ future plans. He’ll stick around all summer and might even get offered a place on the practice squad during the season. But Jones and Lock seem secure as the 1-2 in the Giants’ quarterback room (with Jones’ health the only caveat). And if the Giants draft a quarterback, that player would be the No. 3.

So, if Jones really is healthy enough to be the Opening Day starter, DeVito might be better off somewhere else.

OK, so, on Opening Day in September, who is playing quarterback for the Giants?

Ideally, the Giants want Jones to be their Opening Day starter. Publicly they keep saying they expect it to be Jones. One source said that even if the Giants ended up drafting a quarterback in the first round it would probably still be Jones. But until he’s on the field, they can’t really gauge his recovery, so they know there’s at least a chance it will be Lock. 

Multiple sources, though, seem convinced that if Jones isn’t ready for Opening Day, he’d only have to miss a start or two. So, most likely the quarterback room for 2024 will be Jones, Lock (in some order) and likely a rookie from the first three rounds of the NFL Draft.

Just don’t ask me about 2025.

Ralph Vacchiano is the NFC East reporter for FOX Sports, covering the Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. He spent the previous six years covering the Giants and Jets for SNY TV in New York, and before that, 16 years covering the Giants and the NFL for the New York Daily News. Follow him Twitter at @RalphVacchiano.

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