NFL Teams Who Should Be Watching Daniel Jones After Giants’ Playoff Exit
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The New York Giants’ shocking playoff run came to a halt on Saturday. Quarterback Daniel Jones (15-of-27 for 135 yards and an interception) had perhaps his worst outing of the season, as the Giants lost 38-7 to the rival Philadelphia Eagles.
Heading into the division round, however, Jones appeared to be positioning himself as New York’s quarterback of the future. He took significant positive steps under head coach Brian Daboll and emerged as one of the more dangerous dual-threat quarterbacks in the league.
Earlier this month NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport said reported that the Giants plan to re-sign Jones in the off-season. However, Daboll sounded less committed about the prospect of re-signing Jones after Saturday’s loss.
“All these conversations, we’re going to have,” he told reporters (Michael David Smith of h/t ProFootballTalk. “We’re having a long off-season. There’s a time and place to have all those conversations, and tonight it’s not .”
The talk won’t be easy, as Jones is highly unlikely to return on a bargain. He has an estimated market value of $25.5 million per year, according to Spotrac, and that could be a very low estimate.
Other teams would and will be interested in the 25-year-old Duke Product. Here we’ll examine the six who should logically be interested in Jones – or at least keep an eye on his situation on his way to free agency – and why. Teams are listed alphabetically.
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Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer has some tough decisions ahead of him this offseason. Carolina has to settle for a new head coach and finally find a franchise quarterback.
Over the past two years, the Panthers have won fliers through trades on Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield with disappointing results. They also used a 2022 third round pick for Matt Corral, although he has yet to see the field due to a Lisfranc injury.
Carolina came close to a run at the NFC South title in 2022, and with a dynamic quarterback like Jones at the helm of the offense, could be a contender for 2023. During the regular season, Jones posted a passer rating of 92.5, threw 15 touchdowns with only five interceptions, and rushed for 708 yards and seven more scores.
Now a lot will depend on who the Panthers hire to be their head coach. A seasoned offensive coach like Sean Payton might be very intrigued by the possibility of working with Jones — Payton worked with dual-threat quarterback and gadget player Taysom Hill as New Orleans head coach — though targeting a ninth-choice quarterback in the design is another possibility.
Creating the needed cap space could prove challenging for Fitterer as Carolina is expected to be $4.2 million over cap. However, Carolina isn’t in as dire a situation as the rival Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers – which are expected to be $52.9 million and $55.2 million over the limit, respectively.
If the Buccaneers can’t keep Tom Brady, in theory Carolina could sign Jones and have the best quarterback in the division.
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Like the Panthers, the Indianapolis Colts are looking for a new head coach and some stability in the quarterback position. The Colts have won fliers over Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan over the past two seasons with disappointing results.
The Colts have announced completed interviews with Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Green Bay Packers special teams coach Rich Bisaccia, and Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan.
After finding a coach, finding a new quarterback will be the #1 priority in Indianapolis.
Armed with the fourth pick in the April draft, Indianapolis is more likely to roll the dice on a rookie like Ohio State’s CJ Stroud or Alabama’s Bryce Young. However, it should consider all options this offseason, including Jones.
Jones led a heavy-hitting Giants offense this season, teaming up with star running back Saquon Barkley to form one of the best backfield duos in the league. At Indianapolis he could form a similar tandem with 2021 rushing leader Jonathan Taylor.
Cap space should be much less of an issue for the Colts, who are expected to have $20.6 million in room available. In addition, Indianapolis can free up another $17.2 million by parting ways with Ryan.
The Colts should have plenty of quarterback options this season, possibly including Brady and Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, but Jones could help make them relevant again in the AFC South.
Las Vegas Raiders
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The Raiders are expected to trade or release Carr before February 15, as that will guarantee his $32.9 million salary for 2023 — along with $7.5 million of his 2024 salary.
According to Sports illustrateds Albert Breerare the Raiders eyeing Brady and San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo as Carr’s replacement in 2023.
“I can tell you unequivocally, this is a fact: the Raiders are looking into it. The Raiders, for example, are looking to take over and take over Tom Brady,” Breer told the And Patrick Toon earlier this month. “…This is something the Raiders are doing their research on. The same goes for Jimmy Garoppolo.”
Jones has no ties to Raiders coach Josh McDaniels the way Brady and Garoppolo have – both played under McDaniels with the New England Patriots. However, he would still have a lot of fun in Las Vegas.
Assuming the Raiders can hold onto star Josh Jacobs, they could form a dynamic backfield similar to Jones’s in New York. The Raiders also boast the kind of high-end reception talent that Jones lacked in the Big Apple.
Jones could potentially take more positive steps with Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller as his main targets.
The Raiders are expected to have $21.8 million in cap space. They will have another $29.3 million in space if Carr is released or traded.
New York fighter jets
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The New York Jets used the second overall pick in the 2021 draft on Zach Wilson, but they may be looking for a new starter in 2023. Wilson was benched twice this season for Mike White and players reportedly prefer the last signaller.
After Wilson’s initial benching, “many of Wilson’s teammates, and [then-offensive coordinator Mike] LaFleur, were excited about opening the offense with another quarterback,” wrote Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic.
If the Jets leave Wilson, Jones would be a logical fit. He can keep the defense fair with his legs, can stretch the field with his arm and has done a great job this season of being careful with the football.
He would be a clear upgrade from Wilson, who ended the year with a dismal 72.8 passer score.
Having Jones on the same offense with Garrett Wilson, Corey Davis, Michael Carter and, hopefully, Breece Hall – who is coming off a torn ACL – could create something special.
The Jets are looking for a new offensive coordinator after LaFleur’s firing, and cap space could be an issue. New York is expected to be $2.7 million over the cap. If the Jets can create cap space and find a coordinator who isn’t determined to “fix” Wilson, Jones would make a lot of sense.
Jones could stabilize the offense, now has postseason experience and is used to being scrutinized by ruthless New York media.
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The Tennessee Titans face a tough decision regarding their quarterback, Ryan Tannehill. The new general manager Ron Carthon admitted this during his introductory press conference.
“We’re still evaluating the roster. Ryan has been great here,” said Carthon, per NFL.com’s Michael Baca. “He’s won a lot of football games. I’m looking forward to winning football games. But I need more time to evaluate and make those decisions.”
If the Titans choose to leave Tannehill, they could save $27 million by releasing him with a title after June 1. That would be huge considering the Titans are expected to be $23.3 million over the cap.
If anything, dumping the final year of Tannehill’s contract would open the door for Jones to pursue.
Jones would be a sensible replacement for Tannehill. Like the former Miami Dolphins starter, Jones is athletic, can buy time in the pocket, and can play the game manager role well. However, he would be much more of a rushing menace and would be a huge weapon alongside running back star Derrick Henry.
Everything will depend on how the Titans see Tannehill, who turns 35 in July. They took a gamble on a potential successor when they drafted Malik Willis in the third round, but Willis (42.8 passers) struggled as a rookie this year.
If Willis can’t be Tennessee’s quarterback of the future, Jones could be – and adding him could put the Titans right back in the middle of the AFC South division race.
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The Washington Commanders were close to a playoff push this season, but instability at the quarterback reduced their chances late in the season. Taylor Heinicke was only average in Washington, while the team’s 2022 bet on Wentz paid no dividends.
Wentz posted a disappointing 80.2 passer rating and went just 2-5 as a starter.
Releasing Wentz saves $26.2 million on the salary cap, and that feels like a foregone conclusion. The commanders are only expected to have $7 million in cap space, including Wentz’s contract.
Wentz will almost certainly be gone and Heinicke will be a free agent by March. If general manager Martin Mayhew and head coach Ron Rivera finally want to find an answer to the quarterback, watching Jones would be a good start.
Jones has four years of experience battling NFC East defenses and would be a more reliable option than Wentz or Heinicke.
Well, Jones’ fit in Washington may depend on who Washington eyeballs to replace fired offensive coordinator Scott Turner. The team has already interviewed quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese, former Giants head coach Pat Shurmur and Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks coach Charles London, according to Ethan Cadeaux of NBC Sports Washington.
However, Jones would at least give the Commanders an above-average quarterback, and they could weaken a division rival by stealing him away from New York.
Cap and contract information via Spotrac.