Recent reports suggest that the New York Giants offered a contract to Baltimore Ravens free-agent defensive tackle Arthur Jones. Jones, the brother of UFC light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones, has already received interest from multiple teams (including the Indianapolis Colts, whose head coach Chuck Pagano served as Jones’ defensive coordinator in 2011). In all likelihood, the bidding market for the massive NFL defensive lineman will likely get too pricey for the Giants’ taste.
More importantly, the Giants’ decision to make Jones an early offer reveals a great deal about the current state of contract affairs between New York and free agent defensive tackle Linval Joseph. Joseph is a younger homegrown version of Jones with at least equal talent. Replacing Joseph for Jones makes little sense for the Giants unless they have already reached the conclusion that Joseph will price out of their range.
At this point, no one outside of Joseph or the team’s camp knows the actual numbers discussed in prior contract negotiations, but the team is foolish to let Joseph go without making consistently aggressive attempts to re-sign him. Joseph is the team’s best interior defensive lineman and just entering the prime of his career. At just 25 years of age, he has not yet reached the upper limits of his potential and will anchor the defensive line of whatever team next pays him for half a decade.
Only a year ago the Giants were publicly criticized by team owner John Mara for the team’s defensive inability to stop the run. Led by Joseph in 2013, the team showed marked improvement. If Joseph goes elsewhere, the team’s defensive abilities will regress.
The Giants should not let this happen if they want to build on the defensive progress they showed in the later half of 2013. This team has enough question marks and headaches as it is. Letting Joseph walk (and potentially sign with the Washington Redskins) will only cause more long-term problems.