Legendary Giants quarterback Eli Manning spent some time watching Daniel Jones lead his former team this season, and apparently he liked what he saw.
Jones had the best season of his four-year NFL career under first-year head coach Brian Daboll, which prompted Manning to encourage the franchise to sign the 25-year-old to a long-term contract extension.
“I was proud of Daniel, the way he played, to learn another offense and pick it up,” Manning told ESPN on Tuesday.
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The Giants finished with a 9-6-1 record this season and Manning credited Jones with being able to lead the team to wins late in games.
“Just the way he played in the fourth quarter of a number of games and leading the team back to victory, which was awesome; that’s what you want from your quarterback. To do it so quickly with the brand-new offense, the way they were able to compete, make it to the playoffs, win a playoff game, that is awesome.
“I hope he gets rewarded for that. I hope he is the quarterback for the Giants for a long time.”
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The Giants have expressed interest in retaining Jones, but it is unclear if the team will opt to use the franchise tag or negotiate a multi-year contract extension.
“We’re happy Daniel is going to be here,” general manager Joe Schoen said last week. “Hopefully we can get something done with his representatives. That would be the goal, to build a team around him where he could lead us to win a Super Bowl.”
Earlier this week, teams learned that next season’s salary cap will be set at a record $224.8 million. A contract extension for Jones would certainly have implications for the Giants’ salary cap.
The franchise will also have to make a decision on star running back Saquon Barkley, who will be a free agent this offseason.
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Jones has also publicly expressed interest in staying in New York.
“I really enjoyed my time here, and I want to be here,” he said last week. “I think there’s a business side of it all, and a lot of that I can’t control. I have love and respect for this organization and ownership and the guys in this locker room.
“So I’d love to be here. I really enjoyed being here, and we’ll see how it all works out.”
Manning was on hand during the Giants’ blowout loss in the divisional round to the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.
But, the playoff defeat did not seem to shake Manning’s or the team’s faith in Jones. But, Manning did admit it will be hard for him to root for Philadelphia in next week’s Super Bowl.
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“It’s tough. It’s tough in the sense that I usually kind of root for the NFC in most Super Bowls that we’re not in. It’s tough to root for the Eagles,” Manning mentioned. “There is so much kind of hatred over the years. Not hatred, just the rivalry competing against them.”