New York Giants
Inside Slant | Notes, Quotes | Strategy and Personnel |
At the combine last month, New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, when asked about defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, said that the goal is to see the 26-year-old pass rusher "retire as a Giant."
The Giants took a step toward making that happen on March 2 when they applied the non-exclusive franchise tag on Pierre-Paul, the team's 2014 leader in sacks (12.5) and quarterback hits (21).
Pierre-Paul, the Giants' first-round pick in 2010, became only the fourth Giant to earn the franchise tag designation since its introduction, joining offensive tackle Jumbo Elliott (1983), running back Brandon Jacobs (2009) and punter Steve Weatherford (2012) as the others.
The decision to apply the non-exclusive franchise tag on Pierre-Paul will eat up $14.813 of the Giants' salary-cap space, but will also allow the team to negotiate a long-term deal with the 2011 Pro Bowl defensive end that is easier on their cap moving forward.
While a long-term deal is desirable, the Giants could also potentially be willing to let Pierre-Paul play out the 2015 season under the salary cap if they are unsure about whether he can be that consistent force two years in a row.
In his year-end press conference in December, general manager Jerry Reese hardly sounded like a man ready to open up the team's checkbook for Pierre-Paul.
"I think at the beginning of the season he wasn't playing like he played at the end of the season," Reese said in his assessment of Pierre-Paul's play. "The second half of the season, he came on really strong and played like we thought he should play. The guy has some ability to be a game changer. We didn't see enough of that in the first half of the season."
Therein lies the other dilemma the Giants face in deciding whether to dish out a hefty contract to Pierre-Paul. When healthy, the pass rusher has been very productive. However, he has had back and shoulder issues, and was spotted wearing an elbow brace toward the end of last season.
While Pierre-Paul didn't miss any games in 2014 because of any ailments that might have been bothering him, his statistical totals still feel short of his 2011 Pro Bowl season, which could be a reason for trepidation on the Giants' part as far as handing out a long-term deal for big money.
By letting Pierre-Paul play on the franchise tag, it would be a win-win situation for both sides. Pierre-Paul would receive a guaranteed salary that is up there with the league's top defensive ends and the Giants could see if he is over the hump regarding his injuries. If he is, then they could tag him again in 2016 while trying to work out a deal. If he isn't, they could cut bait and move on.