EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants enter the offseason with an unusually unsettled quarterback situation for a team that signed its starter to a four-year contract just 10 months ago.
That player, Daniel Jones, was limited to six games in the just-completed 2023 season. He missed three October games with a neck injury. Jones returned to start in Las Vegas on Nov. 5, but tore his ACL late in the first half and was sidelined for the remainder of the season.
On Monday, the Giants had their end-of-season physicals, a team, offense/defense and position group meetings, and cleaned out their lockers. Speaking publicly for the first time in about a month, Jones was asked if he believes he will be ready for Week 1 of the 2024 season.
"I do, yeah," Jones said. "Rehab is going well, making progress, and plugging along. It's going well so far and just kind of keep doing the same thing, keep working hard and working with the trainers here."
But as the saying goes, it's complicated. Jones' confidence does not come with a guarantee. And while the Giants hope Jones is their starter when next season begins, general manager Joe Schoen reiterated that he must add a quarterback who can win games in case Jones isn't ready. This year's backup, Tyrod Taylor, who threw for 297 yards in the Giants' 27-10 season-ending victory yesterday against Philadelphia, is a free agent. The only healthy quarterback the Giants have under contract is Tommy DeVito.
Schoen and coach Brian Daboll hope Jones will be the quarterback in the season opener, but knee surgeries don't come with definitive return dates.
"There's a chance he's not ready week one," said Schoen, who held a joint news conference with Daboll. "So yeah, you've got to sign somebody that you can hope – again, plan for the worst, hope for the best, like you plan for him not being ready, so you're going to need somebody that can hopefully win you some games early on if he's not ready.
"Like I said during the bye week, I think, ultimately, we have to do something, whether it's the draft or a free agent just because Tyrod's contract is up. We have Tommy, who's under contract, and then Daniel's injury and the return to play and the uncertainty there. When free agency starts, the draft, whichever avenue we decide to take, we will address the position."
Jones will be a six-year veteran in 2024. The only season in which he did not miss games due to injury was 2022. The previous season, Jones missed the final five games with a neck injury that differed from the one he suffered in October. Schoen said he "absolutely" must consider Jones' injury history when planning for the team's quarterback future.
Can the Giants build around a quarterback who has had two neck injuries and a torn knee ligament?
"Yes," Schoen said. "It's football and guys get hurt. You can't always predict it. I think guys who have previous injuries – you've got to look at the injuries individually and what they were and how they were caused. But I've got a lot of faith in our training staff as well. So again, hopefully he'll be back for week one. Again, we don't have a crystal ball here, but we'll continue to build the team the way we see best."
Jones said he is focused on strengthening his quad, hamstring and the muscles surrounding his surgically repaired knee.
"I'm going to focus on my rehab and making sure I'm doing everything I need to do there to get back healthy and get back on the field and then working on what I can do to improve," said Jones, who will continue to work with the Giants' athletic trainers at the team headquarters. "(It's) the same thing that I do every offseason.
"I think we kind of take it one stage at a time and focus on what's right in front of us. But definitely the goal is to be back by training camp, and I feel like I'm making good progress."
In his six games this season, Jones threw only two touchdown passes, both in a second-half comeback in a victory in Arizona. After throwing five interceptions in 472 passes while leading the Giants to the playoffs in 2022, Jones threw six picks in 160 throws this season.
Schoen answered affirmatively when asked if his faith in Jones is unchanged from when the quarterback signed is contract last year.
Taylor has been with the Giants for two seasons, and Schoen said, "it's not out of the question" that he returns in 2024.
"We'll talk to all the UFAs (unrestricted free agents) and we'll have conversations with them," Schoen said. "The representatives, by the time we get to the combine, we'll usually circle up with those guys. So, it's not out of the question. I thought he played well for us."
The priority is for Jones to get healthy and do the same.
"I'm just focused on what I'm doing and focused on getting healthy and getting back on the field and playing well," Jones said. "It's the NFL. The offseason brings about new things every year. I'll focus on what I'm doing and focus on what I can do to help this team improve.
"I'm still very confident. Like any offseason, there will be areas to work on to improve and see where you can take a step forward. But still confident in myself, confident in the group, confident in what we're doing here."