Daniel Jones
Rich Barnes | USA TODAY Sports

Giants general manager Joe Schoen met with the media at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis Tuesday. It was his first time speaking with reporters since the Senior Bowl in early February.

And he assured there’s “no doubt” quarterback Daniel Jones will be back in blue next season. Erasing any proclamation the team could let Jones walk in free agency due to the expensive tag and likely expensive per-year asking price a new contract would entail.

This case has stood since the beginning of the offseason, when Jones was coming off a career year that featured his first-ever playoff victory. No matter what was to occur, Jones was always going to be back with the Giants for at least the 2023 campaign. It’s the only route that makes sense.

What Schoen decides to do with his starting quarterback will dictate how the team addresses other spots with their remaining cap space. And given the shaky quarterback market and the fact the Giants don’t draft until No. 25 overall, there were hardly any other realistic options. The team doesn’t have the resources to trade for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers while free-agent quarterback Derek Carr is unpredictable. Jimmy Garoppolo is injury-prone and Ryan Tannehill is inconsistent — either would be an average one-year bridge option at best.

Retaining Jones is the optimal route to build off the team’s shocking postseason berth, with continuity on the sidelines (offensive coordinator Mike Kafka is back) and hopeful improvement in the receiver room.

The Giants and Jones prefer to agree on a long-term contract, sure. But if a deal isn’t made, the tag will be placed. Simple as that. Schoen even alluded to the tag, saying he will use it on Jones should he need to by the March 7 deadline.

Of course, you’d like for Jones and the Giants to agree on a new deal so they can spread out the cap. The franchise tag price for quarterbacks is a projected $32.4 million in cap space. Jones’ 2023 cap hit in a new contract would more than likely fall below that mark. Which would provide the Giants with more spending flexibility with free agents, both externally and internally.

But if the tag deadline closes in and the two parties still haven’t agreed on an extension, tagging Jones wouldn’t be the end of the world. While it’s a hefty cap hit, it wouldn’t be a long-term commitment and the Giants could still free up space to spend.

Right now, they have $46.8 million in cap space (per Over The Cap). Following the tag, they would own $14.4 million in space with $6.7 million in space coming via the expected Kenny Golladay release. Schoen could additionally extend the contracts of defensive lineman Leonard Williams ($32.26 million) and cornerback Adoree’ Jackson ($19.08 million) to lower their 2023 cap hits. Cutting cornerback Darnay Holmes would also free up $2.74 million in space. Plus additional restructures, casualties, and other cap-related tricks Schoen has up his sleeve.

The front office will operate differently through the offseason if they extend Jones vs. if they franchise tag him. Regardless, No. 8 will be back in East Rutherford. That much is evident.

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Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.