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Ben McAdoo glad Jason Pierre-Paul will be back with Giants, wants defense to improve

New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo speaks

New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo speaks to reporters at Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Monday, Jan. 9, 2017. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

INDIANAPOLIS — Ben McAdoo said he tries to distance himself as much as possible from the business side of offseason decision-making. So of course he is thrilled that Jason Pierre-Paul will be back with the Giants for at least the 2017 season, no matter the consequences of the team using the franchise tag to get that security.

“It’s great to have JPP around,” McAdoo said Wednesday at the Combine. “We think highly of him . . . Jason is a great part of the team, someone who made some progress last year. It’ll be great to have him back.”

McAdoo was unconcerned with the roughly $17 million in salary cap space currently occupied by the use of that franchise tag, a number that would go down considerably if the Giants and Pierre-Paul are able to agree to a long-term deal. That would appear to be in the best interest of both sides, especially with free agency looming on March 9. Without that deal, the Giants will have only around $14.5 million in cap space to make any additions to the roster.

“You go through, we evaluate the free agents, we went through that process, had some meetings on it,” McAdoo said of the free agency philosophy. “You take a look at free agency and if you have a chance to hit with some clean players that you feel good about and can make you better then you take your shot. If not, you move on and look forward to the draft.”

A year after spending almost $200 million on defensive additions, the Giants figure to be more focused on fixing their offense this offseason. McAdoo did not agree with that thinking.

“I don’t think you look at it like that,” he said. “I think you go through the evaluation process and whether it’s free agency or the draft you try to come up with the best players that you can, what makes the most sense for the long-term health of the organization.”

It’s clear, though, that the Giants want to keep their defense as intact as possible. The Pierre-Paul move signifies that, as does their retention of veteran cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie who was a possible salary cap casualty.

“The defense made a lot of progress last year,” McAdoo said. “We added some guys to the mix who were talented men of integrity, tremendous character, they played hard, and it was important for them to see each other have success. That was a big part of things. But at the same time we’re not looking to play defense the way we played defense last year, we’re looking to get better. We can’t show up thinking we have everything figured out on the defensive side of the ball. We need to make gains, marginal gains, maybe one percent gains, but we need to generate those. We can’t be too big to do the little things, and that needs to show up the first day we get together in April.”

That was a mantra coming into 2016 for the offense, but instead that group took a step backwards. McAdoo would like the defense to avoid such a retreat.

“I know there were a lot of questions asked on how good our offense was going to be last year going into the season and as I said last year, that’s a loser’s mentality,” McAdoo said. “If you think you can just show up and start where you left off, you’re not going to get very far for very long in this business.”

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