Daniel Jones was at the Giants facility Tuesday, and could have been in the room, when the two sides agreed to his 11-hour contract extension.
General manager Joe Schoen and Jones said Wednesday on Zoom that they closed a deal at 3:53 or 3:54 p.m., just minutes before the 4 p.m. franchise tag deadline. Both described a tense final hour. in which neither party was sure of finding a compromise.
“It got a little dicey yesterday,” Schoen said. “As it got closer to 3:30, 3:40, there was a part of me (that felt), like we didn’t make it to the finish line. And in the last four or five minutes we made a loop for him, luckily.”
Jones admitted she had some doubts at times, too, including a Monday night session that made her testy.
“I think there were probably some points where you were more confident and some points where you were less confident,” said the quarterback, wearing a sweatshirt at team facility a day after securing the bag. “But I wanted to find a way to solve it, and that was the goal. It was very much my mindset, and I’m glad I did. I’m delighted to be back.”
Jones said “I was in the building” in that last hour. He said his Athletes First agents told him in person “where she was at” with less than 10 minutes to go, and “I accepted it.”
The quarterback then dined with some friends and their agents to celebrate.
“Yeah, I paid the bill,” the quarterback said expressionlessly.
Schoen said negotiations with Jones’ agents lasted exactly three weeks and culminated in “nine straight days” of in-person meetings, moving from the NFL Combine in Indianapolis on Sunday to the Giants’ facility in East Rutherford on Monday.
Then Monday night it got “late” and they “came back early Tuesday morning” to polish it up.
Schoen did not disclose how involved co-owner John Mara was in finalizing the contract. He just emphasized that he kept the owners informed at all times.
“John Mara, Chris Mara, Steve Tisch, I have a text message chain with them, I called them, I talked to them,” Schoen said. “I kept them informed from the beginning of the process that we started three weeks ago. So phone calls or text chains, just keeping them up to date on what was going on.”
Interestingly, while teams normally use the leverage of the franchise tag against players in negotiations, it appears that in this case Jones’ agents used that tag deadline and the concurrent Saquon Barkley dilemma to force the Giants into reach $40 million per year by Tuesday.
“I wanted to know that we had our quarterback here and that it wasn’t a franchise-type deal,” Schoen said. “So for me that was the worst case scenario, putting that franchise tag on him. But I also knew that he had that as a tool. So the deal had to make sense for the franchise in both the short and long term. And that was what was important to me.”
Schoen added that “the fact that we didn’t have to put the franchise tag on it and the way the deal was structured and the years, I think both parties were happy in the end.”
On the other hand, Jones’ agents did not have to use Tuesday’s deadline as the deadline to close their own deal. They might actually have benefited from pushing the negotiations beyond that point.
That would have forced the Giants to use the tag on Jones, removing one of the franchise tags teams can use on the player in his career, even if he had agreed to a long-term deal a day later.
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For the Giants’ side, Schoen admitted he obviously didn’t think he’d be paying Jones right now a year ago, when he turned down a fifth-year option that would have locked up Jones for $22.384 million in 2023.
“If I thought I’d be here a year ago, I would have made the fifth-year option,” the general manager said with a laugh. But to be around Daniel for the last 13 months and watch him play and comeback in the fourth quarter and win a playoff game on the road, there’s a lot of positive things that a 25-year-old showed all season.”
Interestingly, Schoen also hinted that the Giants were paying Jones for the best player they think he’ll become.
“The good thing is that I have a lot of confidence in our staff, in Daniel’s work ethic and in their relationship that will continue to grow, and Daniel will continue to improve,” Schoen said. “If he’s on his floor right now, I’m very excited about where his floor will be.”
Jones also displayed the same humility that helped him deliver his best season in 2022 against adversity to win this contract. He described the excitement of signing this contract as “akin to being drafted.”
“It’s an opportunity to play, but also an opportunity to win it and prove it and continue to improve as a player and win a lot of football games,” Jones said. “That is my goal, and I am tremendously excited about the opportunity. But there’s certainly a lot of work to do in the future, and I’m excited for that part as well.”
Both sides got something they wanted: Jones got money, the Giants avoided a long-term commitment to a favorable structure, and both were able to put a contentious situation behind them.