Daniel Jones 'wasn't fired up about' Giants’ attempts to draft his replacement

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Three times, Daniel Jones mentioned his emotions about his newest wide receiver.

Each time, the New York Giants quarterback described sixth overall pick Malik Nabers with the same phrase.

“Fired up to get Malik,” Jones said Thursday after an OTA practice.

“I was fired up to see we got him,” Jones added of the LSU rookie receiver.

“I’m fired up we got Malik and looking forward to getting to work with him.”

Jones’ excitement (which came across more in his language than his typically balanced disposition) was twofold. Sure, Nabers brings the Giants a dynamic weapon unlike the receiver rooms Jones worked with during his first five seasons in New York. A year after his first 1,000-yard season, Nabers caught 89 passes for 1,569 yards and 14 touchdowns in his final collegiate campaign.

But also, the Giants’ selection of Nabers at receiver simultaneously meant the franchise didn’t select a new premium-capital quarterback. Head coach Brian Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen had met extensively with top 2024 quarterback prospects through the spring.

How did Jones feel about the Giants exploring quarterback replacements so seriously?

“Yeah, I mean, I wasn't fired up about it,” Jones said. “But I think it's part of it at this level. What I can do is focus on myself and getting healthy. Play the best football I can play and that I know I'm capable of playing.

“That's my job and that's what I'm gonna do.”

Jones heard the chatter about the Giants’ interest in other QBs, including the franchise reportedly pursuing a trade with the New England Patriots to draft North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye third overall. The franchise did not update him on their plans until they alerted him to the Nabers pick.

“I wasn't sure what was gonna happen or how it was gonna play out, so I was just watching and waiting to see like everybody else,” Jones said. “I don't think you can take anything personally at this level. How exactly [trade talks] happened and what happened, I'm not sure I know, I'm not sure you know.

“At the end of the day, I'm focused on playing football.”

Nearly seven months have elapsed since Jones tore his ACL. He’s since progressed to clearance for individual drills, routes on air, and seven-on-seven work.

Daboll declined to put a timeline on Jones’ return to full participation, including 11-on-11 drills and eventually live reps in training camp. The head coach said his quarterback’s “movement skills have been good” and Jones has “done a good job of rehabbing.”

Jones said he has no movement restrictions during seven-on-seven work and he is not wearing a brace to practice. His rehabilitation program increases his workload weekly, and he expects to be ready for training camp. Backup quarterback Drew Lock took first-team snaps in 11-on-11 drills Wednesday.

“Obviously the goal is to be ready to go by the first day of training camp but I’m gonna push to be ready as soon as possible,” Jones said. “I’m about where I hoped to be. I think we've done a good job adjusting the schedule based off what I’m able to do and every week I’m able to do a little bit more so the schedule can change or progress as I’m progressing.

“I feel good and think I'm in a good spot.”

Jones’ health and 2024 production will influence how the Giants handle their quarterback position next offseason.

In five seasons, Jones has completed 64.3% of passes for 12,512 yards, 62 touchdowns and 40 interceptions en route to a 22-36-1 record as a starter. Jones’ 85.2 career passer rating ranks 47th among 95 quarterbacks who have attempted at least 100 pass attempts since he entered the league.

Jones posted his best season in 2022, Daboll’s first year as head coach, when the Giants finished 9-6-1 then won a playoff game. Jones posted a 15-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio that season, his 1.1% interception clip the best in the league. Jones also added 708 yards and seven touchdowns rushing that year, his mobility on display as he stayed healthy.

Jones played just six games last season as a neck injury and ACL tear sidelined him. He completed 67.5% of passes for 909 yards, two touchdowns and six interceptions. The Giants won just one of those six, the team later going 5-6 in his absence.

This will be Jones’ first season without star running back Saquon Barkley, who signed with the Eagles in free agency, though he will have Nabers. The team acquired veteran offensive linemen Jon Runyan and Jermaine Eluemunor this offseason to bolster a perennially poor front.

The Giants extended Jones to a four-year, $160 million deal in 2022 but structured the deal with an exit hatch after 2024. Jones’ contract includes no guarantees after this season and a manageable dead cap hit.

With his financial reality and the Giants’ approach to the 2024 NFL Draft, Jones knows there’s a vision beyond him. He declined to confirm that he still feels the Giants are committed to him for the long term.

“Ummmm, yeah, I mean, I feel good about where we’re going,” Jones said when asked. “I feel good about this team.

“My job is to get healthy and play good football.”