Multiple high-profile players pending franchise tenders reached long term agreements just before the July 15th deadline. Among those high-profile players were Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston, and Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski. Not among them was Giants pro bowl defensive end, Jason Pierre-Paul.
Bryant and Thomas reached twin five-year $70 million agreements with over half of that sum in guaranteed money. Both Houston and Gostkowski became the highest paid players at their perspective positions in NFL history; Houston reaching a six-year $101 million contract with $52.5 million of that total guaranteed, while the Patriots' pro bowl kicker inked a four-year $17 million deal.
While it was uncertain if any of the pending franchise tagged players would sign this offseason, it does not come as a surprise that JPP didn't reach a long term agreement with the New York Giants.
The former first round pick has had a troubling offseason, abstaining from OTA's while also running into some off the field trouble. The defensive end set off fireworks at his Florida home, severely burning three of his fingers, and eventually opting to amputate his right index digit.
These off the field issues mixed with his durability concerns made JPP anything but a sure bet for the future. Dependability and durability are two consistent traits that any NFL franchise considers when signing a player to a lucrative, long-term agreement; two traits that Pierre-Paul is currently deficient in.
Off the field and health issues aside, when JPP is on the field he is one of the most dominant and game-changing defensive ends in the NFL. Down the stretch of the 2014 regular he notched nine sacks in his final five games, a promising sign that he had fully recovered from his nagging back injury.
The implications of playing under the franchise tag this offseason could work to either parties (the Giants or JPP's) benefit. If the defensive end has another pro bowl caliber year, recording double digit sacks while minimizing his health concerns, the Giants could easily sign him to a long term deal or the he could hit the open market at a very high selling point.
Inversely, if Pierre-Paul's health gets the better of him and he struggles to make an impact on the field, he could end up as a free agent with a severely lower value than he would have had to the Giants or any other franchises this offseason. If Pierre-Paul is placed on the non-football injury list (NFI), then the Giants wouldn't be responsible for paying him at all.
Knowing his value is on line, JPP should be fired up to prove his worth this season, and he will play out the 2015 on his signed $14.8 million franchise tag.