This upcoming season will be pivotal for the future of Jason Pierre-Paul’s career. On March 4 the Giants placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on the 27-year-old defensive end for his sixth season in the NFL. This sets Pierre-Paul’s salary at about $15 million for the season, and he can still negotiate with other teams, with the Giants being able to match his offers, or receive two first-round picks in exchange.
There has been some speculation as to whether Pierre-Paul will be able to live up to that salary figure and help jumpstart a left-for-dead Giants’ pass-rush. New York’s defensive end suffered from a serious back injury that limited him during the 2012 and 2013 seasons and he was slow to return to his original playing level at the start of the 2014 season. While he did have 12.5 sacks total, nine of them came at the end of the season, potentially answering questions as to whether he will be able to make a full recovery back to when he took the league by storm as a first-round 2010 draft pick.
Pierre-Paul can use the franchise tag with the Giants to prove not only that he is able to make a full recovery, but that he can come back even stronger in the end. The nine sacks at the end of the 2014 season will help start his momentum as he looks to begin the 2015 season and build up his confidence and his stats even more. If he is able to have a successful season then it will help ensure that he signs a long-term contract with the Giants or another team.
The non-exclusive franchise tag will benefit the Giants as well since they can see how Pierre-Paul plays in the 2015 season and decide at the end if they think he made a successful comeback and want him to stay for future seasons. If he does not live up to expectations he can still be traded and the Giants only pay for him for one year. The franchise tag shows that the Giants want Pierre-Paul on their team though, and this way they will be able to ensure better that that will happen.
The franchise tag is also beneficial as its fits within the Giants’ salary cap. While Pierre-Paul’s $15 million salary cuts deep into the program’s $25 million cap, the other positions needed in the program, like safety, right tackle or guard, will not be as expensive. Pierre-Paul will prove to be a solid investment for the Giants and not put them out of reach with their salary cap as they look to build the rest of their team.
All in all, the Giants made the correct decision in granting the non-exclusive franchise tag to Pierre-Paul for the 2015 season. It will give him a chance to prove his stability as an athlete and that he is fully recovered, but it does not tie him down to the Giants if he wishes to go elsewhere in the future.