If the New York Giants fail in their effort to get defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul to return next season they will be stuck trying to fill a massive hole in their defense. They could do a lot worse than by filling it with defensive end Jabaal Sheard.
A six-year veteran who spend the last two seasons with the New England Patriots, Sheard has 36 career sacks. He had five for New England in 2016 to go with 33 tackles, but his return to the Patriots is considered “highly unlikely.”
Sheard played 579 defensive snaps for New England in 2016, but saw his playing time diminish in the second half of the season.
Pro Football Focus ranks Sheard No. 27 on its list of the top 50 potential free agents.
“Sheard is a capable player against the run and pass, and can play across different schemes and roles. He may never be an All-Pro, but he can be a valuable part of a team’s defensive front.”
PFF ranked Sheard No. 36 out of 109 qualifying edge defenders in 2016.
Spotrac’s Market Value Tool sets Sheard’s price range at an expected $44 million over five years, $8.8 million annually. That might a lot for Sheard, whose single-season high in sacks is 8.5. Per Spotrac, that would make him the league’s 12th highest-paid defensive end. That pales, though, in comparison to the Olivier Vernon-type $85 million deal Pierre-Paul is said to be seeking, or the estimated $17 million it would cost the Giants to use the franchise tag on Pierre-Paul in 2017.
Sheard would give the Giants protection opposite Vernon and lessen the Giants’ need to rely on unproven Romeo Okwara and Owamagbe Odighizuwa. It would also lessen the urgency of using an early draft pick on a defensive end.
If the Giants can’t keep Pierre-Paul, would Sheard be a good consolation prize?