daniel jones
Syndication: The Record

Daniel Jones wants $45 million a year. Actually more than that, according to The Daily News. And the Giants do not seem to be taking it well.

It does not take much media literacy to realize there is a Big Blue information campaign underway. The Giants are politely painting Jones’ demands as exorbitant and irrational in an effort to rally consensus to their side. It is working. But it is also disingenuous.

Let us clarify a few things:

• There is virtually no middle class when it comes to to quarterback contracts. You are either a franchise quarterback, a year-to-year kick-around guy or a backup. The Giants have made it quite clear they view Jones as a franchise quarterback. So he has every right to demand to be paid like one.

• Let’s say Jones actually got $45 million a year. What sits at the top of the market now will be in the middle of the pack in a blink of an eye. Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson will all race past Jones with their imminent deals. The Chiefs will likely need to sweeten things for Patrick Mahomes at some point. Trevor Lawrence is a year away from being extension-eligible. And the salary cap will likely skyrocket over the next few years as the league puts the COVID-19 season in the rear-view mirror.

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• Jones wouldn’t actually be getting $45 million a year. This is not MLB or the NBA, where every penny is guaranteed. NFL annual salary numbers are fake numbers put on paper so agents can look good when they leak them to the league’s scoop merchants. The only thing that matters is the guaranteed money. And Jones’ guaranteed money demands have been conveniently omitted from every leak.

• The franchise tag cuts both ways. But its consequences favor Jones more than the Giants. It guarantees him just under $33 million in 2023 and positions him to hit the market again next year (or to get tagged again). If he has another strong season, his earning power jumps. If he does not have a great year? His earning power may just remain stagnant given the anticipated cap jumps and the relative scarcity at his position. But if the Giants tag him, they will be tying up the bulk of their cap space in 2023. That makes it tougher for them to sign free agents and continue to build the roster. Which could mean a step back, which may destabilize everything moving forward. You just never know. And if Jones makes another leap? They’re right back where they started, a double jeopardy of sorts.

The Giants have three choices here: Give Jones a contract in the ballpark he is seeking (the AAV has to start with a four), tag him and do this again in a year or demonstrate the courage to let him walk if the ask is that outrageous in their eyes. They should take Door No. 1. They will likely settle for Door No. 2. And no matter what, they should stop trying to play the PR game. Because it does not hold up to scrutiny once anyone looks past the surface.

James Kratch can be reached at james.kratch@xlmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @jameskratch.

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.