10 insights into Daniel Jones’ agent switch for Giants contract talks – The Mercury News


Daniel Jones switched agencies from CAA to Athletes First for his big contract deal with the Giants.

There are many layers to this news, which was first reported by ESPN’s Jordan Raanan. There’s misinformation out there about what that means, and there’s a lot that remains unknown.

The Daily News has spent the last few days on the phone to find out what happened, where everything is and what’s to come.

Here’s what we found:

1. Jones did not interrupt an ongoing negotiation to switch agencies. His change of agent delayed the start of negotiations. As of Monday afternoon, the Giants had yet to negotiate a contract extension with anyone representing Jones. So this was not the case with the Giants and Jones’ previous agents negotiating a potential deal with the Giants, Jones souring the conversation and running away. This was an earlier decision by Jones to change representation.

2. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk reported that Jones wants “possibly as much as $45 million a year”. Again, negotiations had not started until Monday, so the wage claim was not yet part of any official negotiations. However, indirect conversations about these contracts start early. And the point of that report was that Jones felt that switching agencies would help him reach a higher number, which is what he needs.

3. A former NFL GM told the Daily News in January that Jones’ contract was expected to be “between $35-38 million” per season. But the average annual value of $40 million a year has become a cap on the quarterback market. There are eight QBs making $40 million a year or more. Once Justin Herbert of the Chargers and Joe Burrow of the Bengals sign extensions this offseason, there will be 10. That will increase to 11 if Lamar Jackson of the Ravens lands a mega-deal. All of which is to say that if Jones accepted a contract under $40 million a year, he would be out of the NFL’s top 10 quarterback contracts under a salary cap that is expected to skyrocket in coming years. Something to keep in mind: these trades don’t happen in a vacuum.

4. The Giants want to re-sign Jones for the long term, and Jones wants to be compensated as a top player at his position. So neither side wants Jones on the franchise brand this season. A one-year, $32.4 million contract would fall far short of the money and security Jones is looking for. And owing Jones $32.4 million in capital and cash in 2023 would limit Giants GM Joe Schoen’s ability to update the roster around his quarterback. The team prefers a long-term contract that allows Schoen to lower the 2023 cap – and delay some of that cost into future years – to save cap space for other immediate investments. The franchise tag window opened on Tuesday and closes on March 7th at 4pm. The Giants can only tag one player. So that’s the deadline to tag Jones at $32.4 million, tag Saquon Barkley at $10.1 million, or not use the tag.

5. If the Giants are forced to draft Jones and there’s no hope of a long-term contract deal, there’s a possibility of putting Schoen and the Giants in the quarterback market for the NFL Draft in April. The Giants have the 25th pick overall, so picking up a QB in the first round would require an expensive trade. Schoen has nine draft picks this year, though. And he was Brandon Beane’s assistant GM in Buffalo as the Bills rose in 2018 from 21st overall to 12th with the Cincinnati Bengals, and again to 7th with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen. That’s only if there’s no hope of a deal with Jones. There are many scenarios where the Giants fail to close a deal with Jones by March 7 and are forced to franchise him, but still work out a long-term extension before the draft. The tag, mind you, can act as a placeholder for a different deal until mid-July.

6. There are creative ways for a team and player to come up with a number that allows the agent to set a new contract benchmark and still give the team some breathing room. Allen’s six-year extension with the Bills in August 2021 negotiated by CAA, for example, included the ability to reach a total of $288 million at an average of $48 million per year if he reaches $30 million in incentives. He receives a $1 million annual bonus if he wins the AFC championship and plays 60% of regular season snaps; a $2.5 million annual bonus if he wins the Super Bowl and plays 60% of regular season snaps; and a $1.5 million annual bonus if he wins NFL MVP. Without the bonuses, however, Allen’s contract was for six years and US$ 258 million, with US$ 43 million per year.

There are also more common and straightforward ways to arrive at a number, which might be how Jones is thinking. Three QBs have managed four more straight years for $160 million ($40 million each) with fewer bells and whistles in recent years: Deshaun Watson (Athletes First, Houston Texans, Sept 2020), Dak Prescott (Athletes First, Dallas Cowboys, March 2021) and Matthew Stafford (CAA, LA Rams, March 2022). Aaron Rodgers (Athletes First, Green Bay Packers, March 2022) also grabbed three clean years and $150 million ($50 million per) not too long ago. And remember: guarantees are what really matter. And Watson’s fully guaranteed $230 million deal with the Cleveland Browns (from Athletes First) emboldened players.

7. A league source said it’s interesting that the Giants have only had to trade the franchise’s quarterbacks to the CAA for the past two decades, between Eli Manning’s entire career and Daniel Jones’ rookie contract. Senior Vice President Kevin Abrams is a titular negotiator and has a lot of experience with Athletes First, too, with Director of Football Operations Ed Triggs having a number of years on the contract side as well. But it’s worth noting that in the sport’s most important position, when negotiating a franchise QB contract, the Giants didn’t have to step outside the CAA in a long time. Schoen is also a young GM going through this for the first time as a boss.

8. Jones’s agency move is surprising in part because, 18 months ago, you could count on one hand how many people outside Jones’ family still believed in him, and his past representatives were among those few. Instead, he will now be represented by the impressive Athletes First team of Brian Murphy, Andrew Kessler and Camron Hahn, according to Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal. It’s unclear when exactly the tipping point occurred. It’s worth noting, however, that many of Jones’ close friends or teammates are Athletes First clients, including Sterling Shepard, Kyle Rudolph, and David Sills. The Giants got here by turning down Jones’ fifth-year option last spring and not trading Jones during their midseason bye week — when the team spoke with representatives for Barkley and safety Julian Love. Predictably, Jones was not pleased when his fifth-year option was turned down. He also understood what that meant. Now he’s looking after himself after surpassing his own team’s expectations for him in 2022.

9. The Giants’ preference is to re-sign Jones and Barkley to multi-year contracts at salaries that give the team the flexibility to continue rebuilding a core roster. When Schoen said “we’re glad Daniel is here”, he hinted that the plan was to bring Jones back to the team, regardless of whether they locked him up for a long time or not. A tag-and-trade hypothetically could be a last resort option for the Giants with either player in the event that a) a long-term deal looks hopeless or b) the player refuses to play in the tag. That’s a conversation for another day, however, at worst. No one is using those words right now.

10. Even with Jones’ top-notch agent trade, it still seems more likely that the Giants will get their quarterback a contract extension. It’s hard to say the same definitively about Barkley. A recent ESPN report said $14 million a year could seal a deal with Barkley, citing a source close to the talks. This apparently indicates that Barkley recognizes that he will not achieve the persistent and unreasonable request for a Christian McCaffrey-like contract of $16 million each. But he’s already turned down between $12-12.5 million in a multi-year deal, and it’s hard to imagine Schoen and the Giants moving away from their insistence on positional value in building a sustainable and competitive product. So something will have to give on Barkley’s side, or else this tag-and-trade scenario isn’t impossible to predict.


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