The New York Giants have declined to pick up the 5th-year option on quarterback Daniel Jones, meaning Jones is now scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next March unless a new contract is negotiated before then. The Giants did decide to pick up the 5th-year option on defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence, who is now safely under contract through the 2023 season. Both players were drafted in the 1st round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Picking up the option on Jones would have cost the Giants $22.384 million in salary in 2023. The option for Lawrence is $10.753 million.
After a promising rookie season, Jones had his second disappointing year in a row in 2021. He missed the final six games of the year with a neck injury that the team has yet to be fully transparent about. Jones finished 2021 completing 64 percent of his passes for just 2,428 yards, 10 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He also ran the ball 62 times for 298 yards and two touchdowns. The Giants were 4-7 in games that he started. Jones also did not have the type of year hoped for or expected in 2020. Missing two games due to leg injuries (hamstring and ankle), Jones started 14 games and completed 62.5 percent of his passes for just 2,943 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. He rushed the ball 65 times for 423 yards and one touchdown.
Jones’ productivity fell from his somewhat stellar rookie season, when he started 12 games, completing 62 percent of his passes for 3,027 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. On the positive side, the fumbling issues that have plagued Jones have lessoned as his fumbles decreased from 18 in 2019 to 11 in 2020 to seven in 2021.
The Giants drafted Jones in the 1st round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Jones has classic quarterback size and is a good athlete who can hurt teams with his feet. He has good but not great arm strength. Jones is competitive, smart, tough, and hard-working. However, it simply has not clicked for him at the NFL level. Part of that is due to his surrounding talent, but he also has not elevated the play of those around him. He has also proven to be injury prone, missing time each season. Jones is 12-25 as a starting quarterback.
Lawrence was named to the Pro Football Writers of America’s All-Rookie Team. However, through three seasons with New York, Lawrence has been inconsistent and has yet to develop into the stud presence expected of him. In 2021, he played in all 16 games with 10 starts at defensive end (69 percent of defensive snaps), finishing with 52 tackles, five tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, 11 quarterback hits, two pass defenses, and one forced fumble.
Built like a prototypical run-stuffing nose tackle (6’4”, 242 pounds) with excellent size and strength, the Giants have surprisingly played him more at 3-4 defensive end. His size and power can force other teams to double-team him. While Lawrence can generate a power rush, he lacks dynamic pass rush moves to consistently reach the quarterback.