Friday, January 20, 2023

Giants may not avoid the temptation to sign NFL MVP

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Daniel Jones is exceeding expectations this season, but that doesn’t mean the New York Giants would miss a chance to replace him in the free hand. Especially if it meant signing a former NFL MVP.

Lamar Jackson would be a “temptation” that the Giants are struggling to “avoid,” according to CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin. He believes the Baltimore Ravens’ QB1, who is yet to sign a new long-term contract, would make head coach Brian Daboll’s offense “lightning fast.”

Jackson’s future remains uncertain, and the longer the brewery saga stretches, the more a team like the well-funded Giants could be encouraged to make a splash this offseason.

While Benjamin noted that Jones “did just about anything to land a new deal as New York’s improbably serene face of the franchise,” he also acknowledged three factors that could put Jackson firmly on the Giants’ radar.

First, General Manager Joe Schoen has over $54 million in cash available as part of this year’s salary cap. The exact figure is forecast by to be $54,342,062, enough to support the kind of contract Jackson is likely to fetch in the open market.

He wants something that matches the $230 million guaranteed money the Cleveland Browns presented to Deshaun Watson, per The Athletic’s Mike Sando. That’s a hefty number, but the Giants might not be afraid to pay up if it means landing a signal caller as dynamic as Jackson.

His natural athleticism and pure speed create several big games on the floor, like this one 79-yard touchdown scamper vs. the Miami Dolphins in Week 2:

Traits like this and this playstyle are perfect for “Daboll’s attack, which prioritizes QB moves,” Benjamin says. Jackson’s ability to play the game differently than most quarterbacks also extends to what he does as a passer.

In doing so, he delivered an example of his talent for ad-libbing games through the air touchdown throw on All Pro tight end Mark Andrews vs. New England Patriots in Week 3:

Throws like this make Jackson a worthy addition to any team. If the Giants needed another recommendation, all they had to do was ask defensive coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale, who “notably spent four years with the Ravens and got a first-hand look at the MVP QB from 2018-2021.”

Those are all reasons Jackson makes sense for the Giants, and they make a compelling case. However, there are just as many reasons why Big Blue should believe in Jones and invest in his continuous improvement.

To say Jones earned his next contract would be an understatement. He could have sulked when Daboll and Schoen refused to exercise his fifth-year option, but the player, who was drafted sixth overall in 2019, responded correctly.

Jones’ response was to start every game in the regular season save for the dead gum against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 18. In the process, the 25-year-old posted career-highs with 3,205 passing yards and a 92.5 QB rating.

Jones put his career back on track by starring in the Giants’ 31-24 win over the Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card Playoffs. He matched a record Jackson had already shared with a Hall of Famer, per Pro Soccer Reference:

Jones proved more resilient than Jackson, who missed the final six games of the Ravens season with a PCL injury. Jackson also missed five games last season with an ankle problem, allowing the Ravens to finish 0-5 and squander a playoff berth.

In addition to staying on the field, Jones showed his suitability for Daboll’s offense. He translated his own dual threat skills to 708 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.

Replacing Jones with Jackson would hardly be cost-effective for the Giants. Not when Schoen also has to clarify the futures of other prominent free agents like running back Saquon Barkley and free safety Julian Love.

There’s also the not-so-minor matter that the Ravens and head coach John Harbaugh are digging their heels in and determined to keep Jackson, according to the statement NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport:

The franchise tag looks likely for Jackson, probably the non-exclusive tag. That would put the Giants in a position to part with two first-round draft picks in order to acquire Jackson.

Schoen and Daboll will likely want the draft capital to continue the rebuild they started in style this season. Better to make Jones cheaper than Jackson will charge and then focus on using his own tag to keep Barkley.

In addition to staying on the field, Jones showed his suitability for Daboll’s offense. He translated his own dual threat skills to 708 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.

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