Honestly analyzing JPP’s New York Giants career
By Curt Macysyn
For New York Giants fans, it’s tough saying good-bye to one of the team’s longest tenured players.
With Jason Pierre-Paul traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Super Bowl XLVI becomes more of a distant memory. Right now though, folks seem split on this trade. Some like it (me included) because it garners an asset for Big Blue (third-round pick), and gives salary cap relief. That relief is modest this season ($2.5 million), but becomes more substantial later on.
Others question how a third-round pick is equal value for a star player and former first-round pick. First, let’s understand that JPP was selected fifteenth overall in 2010. In football years, that’s an eternity. He just turned 29-years old, and it’s safe to say, his most productive years are likely behind him.
As far as the new defensive scheme, let’s not overthink the move. Pierre-Paul is still a great athlete, so he could have and would have been productive in Jame Bettcher’s scheme. Clearly, it was not the perfect fit, but would have been worth the effort.
This trade manifested itself as a confluence of time, salary and priorities.
To put this in context for everyone, let’s use JPP’s former teammate, Olivier Vernon, as an example. Vernon was almost universally acclaimed to be a great free agent signing by then-general manager Jerry Reese.
New York Giants
In his first season with Big Blue, Vernon accumulated 66 tackles and 8.5 quarterbacks sacks in 16 games. Last season, Pierre-Paul had 68 total tackles and 8.5 sacks in 16 games.
That’s as close as it gets statistically.
In terms of contract. Reese actually set himself up for failure in bringing Vernon in with a contract with an average annual value (AAV) of $17 million. This was done while still negotiating a long-term deal with JPP.
Talk about working at cross-purposes.
Reese’s thinking was to go back and reinvent the success of the Super Bowl XLII winning squad. A big pass rush overshadows other shortcomings. But times change, and having two of the top five paid defensive ends in the game on the same team meant linebacker was ignored (again).
New general manager Dave Gettleman clearly has a more holistic approach to roster composition. The sum of the parts is greater than the individual parts.
In terms of actual contracts with the New York Giants, people forget that Pierre-Paul signed a one-year, $10 million bridge contract in 2016. This was after he re-established himself from the 2015 fireworks accident.
The question in my mind is: if JPP signed that one-year contract, why couldn’t an agreement been met over a four-year deal then? Instead, Reese and Pierre-Paul had protracted negotiations until a four-year, $62 million contract was agreed upon. Certainly not a hometown discount, which now brings us full circle and the trade.
In other words, Reese set the market with Vernon, that then impacted the JPP deal. The third-round pick helps the team rebuild, but the salary cap relief stands out.
JPP’s Giants Career
Unfortunately, Pierre-Paul’s New York Giants career will always be viewed through the lens of the fireworks accident. Most times, players have defining points in their career, whether on or off the field. That mishap certainly was his defining point.
In terms of the Ring of Honor, JPP compares favorably with Justin Tuck. Tuck had 60.5 sacks as a New York Giants player, while JPP had 58.5 sacks. JPP had 432 total tackles with Big Blue, while Tuck had 453 tackles.
How can one player be in the Ring of Honor and not the other?
Part of our disconnect with JPP comes from the fact that Tuck was a third-round pick, while Pierre-Paul was taken fifteenth overall. Certainly, Pierre-Paul was one of the few value picks selected under Jerry Reese – even us detractors can’t deny that. Because he remains an athletic freak of nature, more was always expected of him.
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In addition, many folks desired more leadership from JPP. Going in front of the cameras was never JPP’s strong suit. From personal experience I know some writers held that against him. Quite simply, he was a guy who did his job, and sometimes very effectively.
If the New York Giants roster contained 53 Jason Pierre-Pauls, Big Blue would be a perennial playoff contender. We certainly wish him well with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.