Daniel Jones’ Crushing Injury Should Force the Giants to Explore a Franchise-Altering Quarterback Trade

Article Highlights:

  • The New York Giants need to start considering trading for Cleveland Browns star Baker Mayfield in 2022
  • New York’s incumbent starting quarterback, Daniel Jones, may have suffered a career-altering neck injury
  • With Mayfield at quarterback, the Giants could mimic the Alex Smith-era Chiefs

When the New York Giants selected Duke’s Daniel Jones sixth overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, both parties knew he’d face plenty of adversity if he wanted to succeed in the Big Apple — er, East Rutherford, N.J.

Although Jones has impressed at times and consistently made plays as an agile dual-threat quarterback, he still hasn’t done enough to cement his status as the team’s long-term option. A recent neck injury will keep him out of a pivotal Week 13 clash with the streaking Miami Dolphins and is the latest painful blow for a player who has given the struggling franchise his all.

If the neck injury is the beginning of the end for Jones’ time in New York (or, given the issue, possibly his career in general), it’s time for the woeful franchise to strongly consider pulling the trigger on a monumental trade next spring.

The New York Giants need to start thinking about trading for Baker Mayfield

Nearly four years ago, the Cleveland Browns selected Oklahoma star quarterback Baker Mayfield atop the 2018 NFL Draft. One pick later, the rebuilding Giants selected Penn State running back Saquon Barkley and hoped he’d be this generation’s Adrian Peterson.

Neither selection has gone as planned. Although Mayfield led the long-tortured Browns to the playoffs last season, he’s battled injuries and regression in 2021. The fathers of two teammates, running back Kareem Hunt and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., each criticized the fourth-year quarterback for his poor performances and questionable decision-making. After throwing 26 touchdowns against eight interceptions in 2020, he is apace to finish this season with 17 scores and nine picks.

As for Barkley, he’s averaged 3.2 yards per carry and 32.7 yards per game in nine outings since the start of the 2020 season. Various injuries, including a torn ACL, have forced him to miss 17 of a possible 27 games.

Now, to be clear, we are not suggesting the Browns trade Mayfield for Barkley. However, the veteran quarterback is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2022 season, and there is no reason to believe at this point that he will sign an extension in the coming months.

If the Browns decide that they want to move on from Mayfield after this season, the Giants need to ensure they’re in on the ground floor.

The Giants have the assets in place to mimic the Alex Smith-era Chiefs if they add Mayfield to the mix

As this is purely hypothetical, we will not focus too much on the intricate details of a trade package. However, the Carolina Panthers gave up three draft picks — a 2021 sixth-rounder and two 2022 picks, one in the second round and one in the fourth — in acquiring the New York Jets’ Sam Darnold earlier this year, so the Giants would likely need to give up a bit more.

In his first 57 games with the Browns, Mayfield has completed 61.9% of his passes for 13,528 yards, 86 touchdowns, and 49 interceptions. When healthy, he is a capable game-manager who has learned to limit his interceptions; he’s only thrown 14 in 27 games over the last two years.

Luckily for Mayfield, the Giants have the assets in place to ensure he can succeed as a game manager. Rookie receiver Kadarius Toney is an exceptional athlete who has stretched the field when he’s been healthy. New York has gradually improved its defense and added numerous young playmakers, including former Alabama safety Xavier McKinney.

If the Giants add Mayfield, who is a superior all-around passer than Jones, the team is best served by following the Kansas City Chiefs’ model. Late in Alex Smith’s tenure at quarterback, the Chiefs drafted Tyreek Hill, a young electric receiver, and employed a defense that knew how to force turnovers and bend without breaking.

It is way too early to suggest Toney will become anything like Hill or that tight end Evan Engram, assuming he returns in 2022, will grow into the next Travis Kelce. McKinney might not follow in Eric Berry’s footsteps, and Leonard Williams still needs to do more before fans compare him to Justin Houston or Dee Ford.

Still, this is an idea the Giants need to strongly consider if the opportunity arises. Mayfield went first overall for a reason, and a change of scenery could be exactly what he needs, especially given the players he’d have at his disposal.

If Mayfield isn’t the answer, then the Giants need to be extremely careful about drafting a quarterback next spring

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If the idea of the Giants giving up on Jones this early sounds like an overreaction, remember that the team needs to decide next spring if they’re going to pick up his fifth-year option. Failing to do so would make him a free agent in the spring of 2023.

Suppose the Giants would prefer to add a new quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft. Numerous draft critics have openly suggested this is a weak quarterback class outside of Ole Miss’ Matt Corral. Although he flashed at times this season, Liberty’s Malik Willis struggled down the stretch and could fall in the draft as a result.

As of publication, the Giants would pick sixth and seventh (courtesy of the Chicago Bears) in the 2022 NFL Draft. Depending on what the Detroit Lions and Houston Texans do atop the draft, Corral could be long gone by then.

The Giants need to exercise caution and avoid repeating their current predicament even if Willis or Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett are appealing on draft night. This especially applies to Pickett, who will be 24 when the 2022 season opens.

Or, they could make things easy and see what it will take to pry Mayfield from Cleveland. We certainly like that idea.

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