Jason Pierre-Paul is coming off one of the best seasons he has had since 2011. On March 10 he will become a free agent, should the Giants slap the Franchise Tag on him to prevent that?
Coming into the 2014 season, Jason Pierre-Paul had to step up game if he wanted a big contract. He had an injury filled 2013 season that resulted in him playing at less than 100% for the whole year. Pierre Paul’s stats had also dwindled from his breakout season in 2011 where he had 17 sacks. In the three years to follow, he has had 22 sacks so it had been an obvious decrease in production.
That being said, Pierre-Paul had an excellent season this year. He had great Pro Football Focus numbers with an overall grade of 16.8 with an outstanding run-stop grade of 11.9. Pierre-Paul was ranked seventh in the league this year for 4-3 defensive ends. He also had 13 sacks which is more than the previous two seasons combined.
Even though he had 13 sacks, it should be noted that before the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars he only had four sacks. Meaning a majority of the sacks he had this season came against statistically awful teams. The bulk of the remaining nine sacks came against the Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, and Washington Redskins. As we know, those are arguably the three worst teams in the NFL but JPP did what he had to do to get paid. Get sacks.
Pierre-Paul is marketed as a pass rusher and the only way he was going to get the big bucks was if he sacked the quarterback. He did just that, no matter what team they came against he showed that he still has the ability to get to the quarterback.
One of the major pros of Pierre-Paul that most people seem to overlook is his run stopping ability. In fact, it seems like his run stopping ability is greater than his pass rushing ability at this point of his career. Pierre-Paul played in 981 snaps this year and as mentioned above had a run stop grade of 11.9 which was good for 6th in league. Considering that the two players above him combined to play in less snaps than him, JPP should really be at least in the top four.
Pierre-Paul is an amazing athlete that has the range and speed to go track down most running backs that are running toward or away from him. One of the most impressive plays that he had this year was during the Week 15 game against the Redskins when he somehow tracked down a fast Robert Griffin III and made him fumble. That play ultimately prevented a touchdown from happening at the end of the half and swung momentum towards the Giants.
The problem with Pierre-Paul might actually be his pass rushing ability. While he is a freak of an athlete, he only seems to have one move and that is the bullrush. He has the strength to drive back a lineman but other than that he really lacks any kind of great finesse moves. It’s a problem because before that stretch of nine sacks in five games, he only had four sacks in eleven games. While that might seem concerning it should be taken into consideration that Pierre-Paul is only 26 and has plenty of time to improve his craft. Lets not forget that at the same point of his career, Michael Strahan only had 32 sacks whereas Pierre-Paul has 42.
It is imperative that the Giants somehow slap a franchise tag on Pierre-Paul to lead into an extension. If they let Pierre-Paul walk, that would be another glaring hole that they will need to fill. No matter how much potential Damatore Moore has, he is no JPP. The Giants need that elite defensive end that has game changing ability. Pierre-Paul has that, he has shown from time to time how much of a difference it makes having him.
In the end, it will be the best move the Giants can make at this point as it seems there has not been any talking between the Giants and JPP’s agent. The best they can do is put the Non-Exclusive Franchise Tag on him so if a team really wants him, they will have to give up two first round picks in order to get him. It really is a win, win for the Giants if they tag him because they’ll either get two first round picks or eventually work out a long term deal. A solid five-year, $50 million, $25 million guaranteed contract sounds good, time to sit back and see what happens.