After an incredible, albeit surprising 2022 season, the New York Giants are looking to recapture that same magic in 2023. They are running it back with almost the same core from last year, albeit with some important additions (and some key subtractions, too!). Nothing's going to be easy for the G-Men, especially in the loaded NFC East division.
Most of these moves are solid moves made by the franchise to hopefully see an improvement. There are a couple of moves, though, that could end up backfiring on them if it doesn't pan out. Let's take a look at the riskiest move the Giants made during the 2023 offseason.
Extending Daniel Jones
Entering the 2023 offseason, the Giants had one pressing question on their minds: what do they do with Daniel Jones? After three years of sub-par play from the former first-round pick, Jones was able to perform much better in his fourth year. He significantly cut own on his turnovers and was able to lead his team as a game manager.
Thus, the DJ Conundrum was born. His “breakout year” with the Giants isn't exactly what you'd call a world-shattering breakout. It's not like Daniel Jones suddenly became a Joe Burrow or Josh Allen-level player who could carry games on his own. We're not sure yet if he's able to elevate his team to greater heights.
The 2022 Giants ranked dead-last in passing “big plays” with 16. “Big plays” are classified as a 25-yard or more gain from a pass. The next closest to them are the Baltimore Ravens with 20. However, that same Ravens team also has the electric Lamar Jackson under center, who's a much better runner than Daniel Jones.
Because of the uncertainty of Daniel Jones' future performance, it was hard to assess a fair value for a contract extension with the Giants. He's good enough to warrant keeping, but paying top dollar for his performance last year felt a bit.. wrong. There was also the matter of Saquon Barkley's contract extension as well further complicating matters. The Giants HAD to keep Jones around. The only question was… how much?
The answer: a four-year, $160 million contract for Daniel Jones. That's the price that the Giants and DJ agreed upon. The contract was polarizing at the time of the announcement. Some felt it was a fine deal, while others thought that it was a bit much for someone of Jones' caliber.
The move to hand this much money to Jones is their riskiest free agency move this offseason, and it's not hard to see why. The Giants are basically banking on Jones to continue his development. His passing has improved, he's fumbling less and he's throwing less interceptions. For Jones to perform up to the standards of his contracts, though, he'll need to be someone who can put the team on his back. It's not all on him, of course: fans have correctly pointed out that the Giants' WR room was horrible last season. Still, a 4,000+ passing yard season is going to be the baseline that DJ must hit.
There's also the fact that Jones himself could regress back to his past form (a.k.a, the turnover machine from years past). While his 2022 season with the Giants is encouraging, it's still just one season. In the grand scheme of things, it's a ridiculously small sample size. The possibility of 2022 being an anomaly still exists.
A runner-up for the Giants' riskiest offseason move would be their trade for Darren Waller. We briefly touched on New York's lackluster receiving core earlier. Their best wide receiver last season was arguably Isaiah Hodgins, a former practice squad player for the Buffalo Bills. Because of that, the team swung a trade for the former Raiders tight end Waller.
When he's healthy, Waller will easily be the best player Daniel Jones has thrown the ball to over the last few years. The ex-Raider is up there in the conversation regarding the best tight ends today. However… “When he's healthy” has unfortunately been Waller's tag line for the last few years. Waller struggles to stay on the field due to his numerous injuries. The worst-case scenario for the Giants is if Waller ends up playing less than half of the season.
The 2023 season will be the true litmus test for the Giants' future under Brian Daboll. Was their improbable run to the Divisional Round just a fluke? Their performance hinges heavily on Daniel Jones and his contract. If he underperforms or regresses back to his past self… New York will be in for a long and bumpy ride.