The silence from Jason Pierre-Paul toward the Giants remains deafening, but the team's offer of a franchise tender worth $14.8 million to its star defensive end remains in effect despite the hand injuries he suffered in a July 4 fireworks accident, according to a league source.
Multiple media outlets have reported that Pierre-Paul does not plan to sign the tender until he can pass a team physical exam and begin playing. Such a move might allow him to avoid going on the non-football injury list at the start of the season, which would mean he would have to miss the first six weeks without pay. The team then would have another three weeks in which to decide whether to activate him.
As a restricted free agent, Pierre-Paul is not getting paid anyway, but as long as the franchise tender remains in force, the Giants retain his rights and have the right to match any offer he might receive from another team. Still, the lack of communication with Pierre-Paul, his advisers and the medical team treating him remains disconcerting to the club.
Ronnie Barnes, senior vice president of medical services for the Giants, was in Miami from Monday through Wednesday but never got to see Pierre-Paul at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he is being treated. The source said the Giants wanted to make sure Pierre-Paul gets the best medical treatment possible for his well-being, but they still have not been told the details of the reported amputation of the index finger on his right hand, surgery to repair a broken right thumb and skin grafts.
Dr. Samantha Muhlrad, a Stony Brook University orthopedist who specializes in hand surgery and has treated SBU athletes, including football players, said that while patients vary, an athlete with injuries comparable to those reportedly suffered by Pierre-Paul reasonably could expect to recover and continue his NFL career.
Muhlrad has not treated Pierre-Paul and has no direct knowledge of his injuries, but she said: "In general, amputation can speed healing and recovery for manual laborers and competitive athletes. The index finger contributes less to grip strength than the pinkie side. Although he will lose some grip strength, he may have preserved the majority of his grip strength."
According to Muhlrad, a broken thumb is a more serious injury because the thumb contributes 50 percent of hand strength. "It can be quite serious," Muhlrad said. "A bone injury takes at least six weeks to heal. When the pins come out, it requires therapy and motion and strengthening exercises."
Muhlrad added that skin grafts can take in a few weeks but can lead to scarring and stiffness. "Physical therapy could be necessary for months," she said. "But as an NFL athlete with motivation and general health and strength, his rehab course may be shorter than the average person."