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Jason Pierre-Paul, Giants still better off together ... for now

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What should the Giants do about Jason Pierre-Paul?

Will we see Jason Pierre-Paul in a Giants' uniform again?
Will we see Jason Pierre-Paul in a Giants' uniform again?
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Should the New York Giants just cut ties with Jason Pierre-Paul? Adam Schein of NFL.com thinks they should. Gary Myers of the Daily News thinks they should. Many Giants fans commenting here at Big Blue View think they should.

I would not blame the Giants even a little bit if that is what they eventually did -- in fact, I might even applaud them in light of the stiff arm Pierre-Paul has given the entire organization since his Fourth of July fireworks accident. Owners John Mara and Steve Tisch, head coach Tom Coughlin, general manager Jerry Reese and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo have every right to be both ticked off at Pierre-Paul's stupidity and insulted by the wall JPP and his representatives have placed between the player and the organization.

The Giants are one of the most loyal, classy organizations anywhere in terms of their treatment of players who have suffered catastrophic injuries. Look at the way they treated Chad Jones and David Wilson. You can say that Pierre-Paul's approach with the Giants is about business, and maybe it is. It is still uncalled for, and I still don't see what he thinks he can gain from slamming the door in the face of a team that was going to pay him $14.8 million this season.

Before this fireworks fiasco, the Giants were already uncertain what to make of Pierre-Paul. That is why they used the franchise tag in the first place instead of aggressively pursuing a long-term deal. They weren't sure if Pierre-Paul was the right kind of player, or person, to make that kind of commitment to.

After recent events the Giants could not be criticized if they slammed the door right back in Pierre-Paul's face, rescinding the franchise tag, making him an unrestricted free agent and, moving into the 2015 season without their 2011 first-round draft pick. It might be what does happen if Pierre-Paul continues to keep the Giants in the dark about both his physical condition and his intentions in regards to the franchise tag.

In the end, though, I don't think that is what will happen. I have serious doubts that the two sides will be able to go forward with each other long-term, but from the narrow perspective of the 2015 season I think both sides need each other. And despite whatever posturing is going on or ill will that may have been created, I think deep down they both know that. Early reports have been that the Giants intend to keep JPP for the 2015 season.

Why Pierre-Paul needs the Giants

Money.

It's simple. Maybe I am giving other NFL teams too much credit, but no one else is going to give Pierre-Paul $14.8 million to play in 2015. No one in their right mind is going to give him half that, or give him more than a one-year deal. If it's about the money -- and it's ALWAYS about the money -- Pierre-Paul can probably make more money from the Giants in 2015 than he can from anyone else.

Should Pierre-Paul sign the franchise tag, get placed on the Non-Football Injury list and miss the first six games of the regular season and go unpaid by the Giants for those games he would lose roughly $5.3 million. That means he could still make roughly $9.5 million.

If he refuses to sign the tag until he is able to pass a physical, avoiding NFI, Pierre-Paul would lose roughly $870K for each week of the regular season he missed.

There is always the possibility that the two sides could reach some type of compromise, perhaps an incentive-laden deal with a lower base salary. That might satisfy the Giants, who may not see JPP as a $14.8 million player in light of the finger amputation, and still give Pierre-Paul a chance to earn back a fair amount of the money provided he reaches some incentive benchmarks.

In his fantastic breakdown of Pierre-Paul's options relating to his contract, former sports agent Joel Corry points out that there are teams with salary cap room who might go after JPP if the Giants allow him to become a free agent. I just have a hard time, considering the injury, the questions it raises about his maturity and reliability, and the challenges Pierre-Paul faces in learning to play with one less finger, believing that anyone will rush to pay him big money for 2015.

Why the Giants need Pierre-Paul

They need to win.

It has been three seasons since they have made the playoffs. The Giants pretty much embarrassed themselves the past two seasons, posting back-to-back losing records. Coughlin's coaching career could be on the line in 2015. Reese has, justifiably or not, largely gotten a pass from ownership despite some questionable decisions the past few years. That has to end at some point. Another losing, playoff-less, season and there could be a lot of changes coming to Big Blue.

Pierre-Paul is a lot of things. Call him a knucklehead. Call him immature. Call him a player who has talked a bigger game than he has played the past few seasons. No one will argue. When he is right, though, he is still the most talented, complete defensive end the Giants could have on the field in 2015. He is the only player they have with a double-digit sack season, and he has two. He is the only defensive lineman they have who has been named an All-Pro. He is the only defensive end they have who can be both a dominant run defender and pass rusher.

It is hard to let a player like that leave without exhausting every option to keep him.

Reality is, Pierre-Paul probably won't be that dominant player right away. He has to regain the strength in his hand. He has to regain confidence that he can push, pull, grab with that hand and raise it into a passing lane to bat down a throw. He has to re-learn some of his techniques, learn how to do things that always came naturally with a hand that is now different. He has to work his way into playing condition. He did not participate in the offseason program or mandatory minicamp, which means he is way behind in terms of learning the nuances of the new defense installed by Spagnuolo.

Perhaps, though, if Pierre-Paul can work his way through all of that he can finish the 2015 season resembling the player who had nine sacks in the final five games of last season. That player might be worth waiting for.

Final Thoughts

Perhaps the longer Pierre-Paul keeps his distance from the Giants the harder he makes it for them to keep him. The Giants can't feel good about being put in a position of having to pay Pierre-Paul millions of dollars if they haven't been able to see him, examine him, study the medical records to know exactly what they are dealing with, talk to him to find out what his frame of mind is and whether or not he can focus on returning to being a dominant defensive end. Maybe freezing out the Giants results in him eventually being an ex-Giant.

Honestly, I'm not a big JPP guy. He's not a leader. To be a leader you have to be a team-first guy and I think we have established where Pierre-Paul falls in that department. He has talked a bigger game than he has played over the past three years. It is fair to wonder why Pierre-Paul couldn't play all season the way he did the final five games of 2014. Was that just a salary drive? If so, will he just rest on his wallet if he does get a big long-term deal?

The decision for the Giants comes down to whether or not the aggravation, the distraction that will inevitable result whenever Pierre-Paul does return to the locker room, and the wait for him to figure out how to do his job when one of his primary tools is different, is worthwhile. At least for 2015.

Maybe they ultimately decide to let him go, move on and hope the young players they have rise to the challenge. I would give them credit for taking a stand. As of today, though, I still think the two sides are better off together for the upcoming season.