The one that got away.
Former New York Giants All-Pro, Pro Bowler and Super Bowl Champion defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul visited the Baltimore Ravens on June 9, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
The Giants selected Pierre-Paul in the first-round of the 2010 NFL draft. He went onto notch first-team All-Pro in 2011, as well as two Pro Bowl nods during his time in New York. His biggest accomplishment of all, though, was leading the Giants to their fourth Super Bowl title in franchise history during the 2011-12 season.
Ex-general manager Jerry Reese, who drafted Pierre-Paul, signed him to a four-year, $ 62 million contract extension prior to the 2017 regular season. However, after a 3-13 campaign that year, Reese was fired and replaced by another ex-GM in Dave Gettleman. Shortly after his arrival, Gettleman traded Pierre-Paul to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers prior to the 2018 NFL regular season in order to dump his bloated salary. The Giants received a third-round pick from Tampa, in which they spent later that spring on defensive end BJ Hill, who they eventually traded to the Cincinnati Bengals in August 2021.
Pierre-Paul made the Giants decision to let him go was a mistake, racking up 33 sacks from 2018 to 2021. He also picked up another ring, helping the Buccaneers capture Super Bowl LV.
The 33-year-old is coming off a down season, in which he recorded just 2.5 sacks across 12 games. He also underwent offseason shoulder surgery and is rising in age. Pierre-Paul’s two-year extension with the Buccaneers expired after the 2021 season, and he remains available on the free agent market.
The Ravens have $ 5.58 million in salary-cap space, per Over The Cap. If Pierre-Paul is willing to take a discount, he could potentially extend his career by joining a talented front seven in Baltimore.
As impressive as Pierre-Paul’s track record has been, it has come along with a bit of a rocky injury history.
On the July 4, 2015, Pierre-Paul endured a freak firework accident, in which he blew off part of his finger and later had to get it amputated. Miraculously, he was somehow able to return in the second half of the 2015 season, appearing in eight games with a massive club on his hand for the Giants.
Pierre-Paul later underwent additional surgeries and received a special glove to wear while playing, which allowed him to lose the club. This helped him put up seven sacks and 16 quarterback hits in 2016, as the Giants made the playoffs for the first time since winning the Super Bowl in 2011. Unfortunately, Pierre-Paul missed the Giants’ blowout loss in the NFC Wild Card round due to season-ending surgery to repair a sports hernia.
Fast forward to May of 2019, where Pierre-Paul experienced an additional life / career threatening accident. Pierre-Paul was involved in a single-car crash, which resulted in a neck fracture. It was also revealed that the pass rusher was not wearing a seat belt. After missing the first six games of the 2019 regular season, Pierre-Paul returned to the Buccaneers to post 8.5 sacks that year. The following season, he helped them win a Super Bowl.
Full Circle Moment
For the first time since selecting Pierre-Paul at No. Kayvon Thibodeaux at No. 15 overall in the 2010 NFL draft, the Giants took another young exciting edge rusher in this year’s draft, grabbing 5 overall.
Thibodeaux will have similar expectations to Pierre-Paul, whose tenure with the Giants wasn’t exactly the smoothest, but included some great statistical seasons and a Super Bowl title.
Thibodeaux is already being mentored by another former Giants defensive end in Hall of Famer Michael Strahan. It would certainly be interesting to see the team bring back JPP to mentor Thibodeaux as a teammate. Talk about a full circle moment.
In fact, the Giants actually have more cap space than the Ravens, $ 6.22 million, per Over The Cap. However, it still seems like that money will be spent elsewhere, with more pressing needs at cornerback and along the offensive line.