Since July 4th, 2015 Jason Pierre-Paul has been on a roller coaster and it all started when JPP severely damaged his left hand in a fireworks accident. What added to a potential career threatening injury was that Pierre-Paul was a free agent and has not signed a contract. Instead of signing a multi-million-dollar deal in the summer of 2015 Pierre-Paul’s career and lively hood could have been taken away in an instance.
As the 2015 season progressed Big Blue’s defense showed serious limitations and needed an upgrade so mid-way through the 2015 season JPP and the Giants agreed to a contract. Pierre-Paul’s presence on the field was more about what he was wearing than how JPP was playing. During the 2015 season JPP played with a taped left hand that looked close to a club on his left hand and even with the clubbed hand, Pierre-Paul had one sack in 2015.
Entering the 2016 season there still was a level of doubt if JPP could return to Pro Bowl form. And making the matter worse for Pierre-Paul was that he was a free agent. The Giants brass decided to bring back JPP on a one-year deal which appeared like a win-win situation for Jerry Reese. If Pierre-Paul is not performing the Giants would let JPP walk after the season. Conversely, if JPP becomes an impact player in 2016 Big Blue would gladly pay for the performance.
When evaluating JPP’s 2016 season it is safe to say Pierre-Paul returned to form as he had 7 sacks even though he missed the last three games of the seasons because of hernia surgery. With a healthy JPP, the Giants defense was more effective at snuffing out the opponents attempted the game winning drive. In all consideration, JPP should be considered if not awarded the NFL comeback player of the year. Very few if any could suffer the injury JPP had and can return to form.
Yet just like at the end of the 2014 and 2015 season JPP is a free agent. There are two major differences and this step into free agency than in 2015 and 2015. The first difference is Pierre-Paul is a year older, he turned 28 on New Year’s day. The second difference is JPP has publicly stated he will not sign a one-year deal with the Giants. While defensive ends usually have a longer live than running backs or cornerbacks in the NFL JPP has had a series of injuries and one would have to wonder if Big Blue will want to invest in Pierre-Paul long term.
The second factor to take into JPP’s free agency is how aggressive the other 31 teams will pursue Pierre-Paul. An edge rusher has become a must have for any NFL team to be successful in this era of football and JPP can be the final piece to a championship puzzle for a contending team.
Another factor into JPP’s free agency will be the salary cap. While there are no other marquee players from the Giants roster this season in 2018 offensive linemen Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg will be free agents. While the Giants offensive line has been much criticized, the unit would be worse without Richburg and Pugh. Also, the more money spent of JPP means less money spent on incoming free agents.
JPP has only known one NFL franchise and the Giants have shown loyalty to JPP by offering him a contract many other teams would have not. While loyalty would dictate Pierre-Paul stays with the Giants, the NFL is a business. Both the Giants and Pierre-Paul will have to make a business decision and both parties will do what is best for business.