Good Morning
Good Morning

Giants coaches hope Jason Pierre-Paul can step right into new defense once he signs

Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul celebrates after sacking

Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul celebrates after sacking San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith during the second quarter at Candlestick Park. (Oct. 14, 2012) Credit: AP

Steve Spagnuolo has been in contact with Jason Pierre-Paul a few times this offseason.

"Not as much contact as I would like," the defensive coordinator said.

That's because the star defensive end has yet to sign his franchise tag tender and has not participated in any of the team's offseason programs. He's also not attending this week's mandatory minicamp (which is not mandatory for him since he technically isn't under contract).

"It's really hard when you come in new and you have a player in that situation, you really want to start a rapport and a relationship, a coach-player friendship," Spagnuolo said. "It makes it a little bit difficult. But hey, we've all been through this, it's part of the league, and we just keep grinding away."

The Giants coaches who spoke on Tuesday - the first day of the minicamp - made it clear that Pierre-Paul's absence is really just business. Unlike another possible franchise tag player in Dallas, Dez Bryant, JPP seems to have come to terms with the idea of a big one-year payday (he'll make $14.8 million once he signs). In fact, he hasn't even technically been away from the team for all of the offseason. He spent time with the team at the start of the program this spring, even if did not actually take the field.

"I've fed him some of the stuff as we've progressed," defensive line coach Robert Nunn said of the half-dozen or so meetings he had with Pierre-Paul. "We implemented some stuff and how it's going to be introduced when we get to training camp. I thought he had a very good grasp of it when he left and when he gets here we'll start and that's where we'll begin."

Nunn said he has not gotten any sense that Pierre-Paul is disgruntled or upset about his situation.

"From all of my contact with JPP, it's all been positive," he said. "It is what it is. I don't get involved with the business side of it, but he seems to be in a very good place mentally and working out and looked like he was in very good shape when he was here. We'll see when we begin."

That likely will be in training camp next month when Pierre-Paul finally takes the field. He and the Giants have until July 15 to agree on a long-term deal. After that, he'll likely sign his tender.

"He's going to be behind because of what we're doing right now," Spagnuolo admitted. "He had been around for a period of time did a little bit of the mental work, which I greatly appreciated. I thought that spoke volumes to who he is, what he's about, and how important it is to him Hopefully he's up to that challenge and he can get up to speed really quick."

Nunn said he thought training camp would provide ample time to do that.

"There are wrinkles that he has to be here to pick up," Nunn said. "If he comes in in the right frame of mind and in good shape, we'll be ready to go [by the opener]."

Spagnuolo has not had a chance to work with Pierre-Paul directly, but he's studied him in anticipation of his arrival and believes that he can still be one of the best defensive ends in the NFL.

"He looks pretty elite to me," Spagnuolo said. "Anybody can put a highlight film together and make a player look great, but if you just watch the tape of JPP out there, it's evident to me that he's an elite defensive end and fits a 4-3 system. Which is exciting."

As for that other potential franchise tag player in Dallas, Bryant has reportedly threatened to boycott the regular-season opener if he does not receive a long-term deal from the Cowboys by the July 15 deadline. That opener is against the Giants. So what does Spagnuolo think about Bryant's bargaining strategy and threat of sitting out the game?

"I highly suggest it," he said with a grin.

New York Sports