Daniel Jones gets second chance despite Giants’ Drake Maye push

The call came in Thursday night, not long after the 2024 draft opened up and the news it relayed gave Daniel Jones a stay of execution. 

And because it went the way it did, Jones lives for another day, or season, and it is up to him to make the most out of the reprieve he has been granted. 

In this case, it was not the governor issuing a pardon. Rather, it was Eliot Wolf, the Patriots director of scouting, finally shutting down any and all inquiries to trade out of the No. 3 overall pick. The Giants, hot for quarterback Drake Maye, put their bid in — believed to be the No. 6 pick this year, their second-round pick (No. 47 overall) and their 2025 first round pick. In reality, nothing other than a ridiculous trade offer was going to prevent the Patriots from taking Maye

Daniel Jones must re-prove his worth to the Giants. Getty Images

“We had some conversations with other teams, but ultimately, we felt like Drake was the player that we wanted and we had the opportunity to get him,” Wolf said. 

Maye was the player the Pats wanted. As for the Giants, Jones is the player they … what? Are stuck with? Will settle for? Grudgingly will keep around for another year? Are excited to have at quarterback for them in 2024? 

If the deal had worked out and Maye was wearing Giants blue, he would not have been handed the reins to the offense for opening day. Jones, as long as his rehab from ACL surgery was complete and successful, would have retained his starting role. But with the ability to get out of Jones’ four-year, $160 million contract after this season (for “only’’ $22 million in dead money) the message would have been clear and concise: Jones is the here and now, but Maye is the eventual replacement. 

That scenario did not come to pass, but that does not mean the attempt never happened. Jones knows this. General manager Joe Schoen and coach Brian Daboll know this. Of course, Schoen was not going to detail — or even really admit — his conversations with the Patriots. Any time a team includes a future first-round pick, it is a serious offer with serious intentions. 

The Giants figured this trade would most likely not go down. They were not so desperate to replace Jones that they were willing at No. 6 to take a quarterback — J.J. McCarthy, Michael Penix Jr. or Bo Nix — that they did not believe was worth that slot. They knew they could stand pat and get a top-end wide receiver, and they believe Malik Nabers will be a difference-maker. They got better by taking him. And they are cognizant that, at least for this season, they have to try to make it work with Jones. 

Can it? Can Jones stay healthy and benefit from how Nabers enhances the entire passing game, with an upgraded offensive line and, maybe, Daboll taking over the play-calling on offense? Jones got a text from Schoen before the Nabers selection was announced, alerting Jones that the Giants added a major weapon. Unspoken but understood in that communication: Daniel, we took a wide receiver, which means we did not trade up for a quarterback, which means you are our guy again. 

The Patriots too Drake Maye with the No. 2-overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. USA TODAY Sports

It does no one any good to sugarcoat any of this. Jones needs to accept what the Giants tried to do on draft night, use it to fuel his comeback. Show some defiance. Outwardly, Jones does not show much of anything. Inwardly, he must do everything in his power to send a message to the Giants that trying to replace him was foolhardy. The deck might be stacked against him but that does not mean he has no shot. 

Daboll talks to the team every day, even now, during the voluntary offseason workouts, and meets specifically with his quarterbacks, Jones, Drew Lock and Tommy DeVito. This time of year can be anxiety-inducing. 

“You’re just transparent with the entire team about the whole draft process,” Daboll said. “You’re trying to improve your team. You know, the last meeting we had, I showed a picture up here of all of our area scouts, Joe, his leadership group, and you know, part of their role is to help improve our football team by creating competition.” 

Joe Schoen tried to move up in the 2024 NFL Draft to select a quarterback, but was unable to. Noah K. Murray-NY Post

Translation: We are constantly looking for better players to replace the ones we already have. 

“If you’re sitting in there and you’re in the receiver room and we draft Malik Nabers, there’s a human element to that, too,” Daboll said. “There’s a draft every year. There’s free agency every year. We start out the meeting by, any new players that are here that weren’t here last year, stand up, and any guys that were drafted by Joe and the staff, stand up. It’s different every year. The teams are different. It’s constructed different.” 

The construct of the quarterback position, as of now, is not different. The Giants did not procure the eventual replacement for Jones. It was not for a lack of trying. 

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