Jason Pierre-Paul, the last defensive link to the Giants’ most recent Super Bowl championship team, was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday. The defensive end was swapped for Tampa Bay’s third-round pick in the upcoming draft, and the teams also will exchange fourth-round picks.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter was first to report the deal.
The trade is yet another step toward a new philosophy for the Giants, with general manager Dave Gettleman and coach Pat Shurmur redesigning the entire roster.
“We appreciate everything Jason has done for the Giants,” Gettleman said. “He was a fine player for us, and he helped our franchise win Super Bowl XLVI. We wish him well in the future.”
Pierre-Paul, 29, signed a four-year contract last offseason under the previous regime, but he had a less-than-stellar first season under the deal and it was unclear where he would fit into the team’s new 3-4 scheme in 2018.
“Thank you to the Giants for the eight years I spent there,” Pierre-Paul told NFL Network’s Kim Jones. “They’re making changes; I understand that. Thank you to fans that supported me, and thanks for the great Super Bowl run that we had.”
The move has little impact on the salary cap for this season, saving the Giants about $2.5 million. But it takes Pierre-Paul off their books for 2019 and 2020, when his cap hit was due to be $19.5 million and $17.5 million.
Replacing Pierre-Paul is a little fuzzy because it was unclear what role he would have had in the new scheme under coordinator James Bettcher. The Giants added two players from the Cardinals, Bettcher’s former team, this past week: linebacker Kareem Martin and defensive end Josh Mauro. They also re-signed defensive end Kerry Wynn to a one-year deal, making it likely he will be a backup.
The move also opens the possibility that the Giants will select pass rusher Bradley Chubb of North Carolina State near the top of the first round in April or draft another player who will fit the scheme. With the trade, the Giants hold four of the first 69 picks (Nos. 2, 34, 66 and 69) to go with the 108th overall pick in the fourth round and the 139th in the fifth. They traded their sixth-round pick as part of the deal to acquire linebacker Alec Ogletree.
Pierre-Paul was drafted in 2010 as a raw athletic freak, having played organized football for just a few years and for only one season at the University of South Florida. He was taken with the 15th pick overall, and by his second season, he appeared to be blossoming into one of the league’s top defenders. He had 16 1⁄2 sacks in 2011 and was a big part of the Super Bowl championship.
His production, however, was slowed over time by a series of injuries and mishaps. He had back surgery in the summer of 2013, lost parts of his right hand in a fireworks accident on July 4, 2015, and missed the final four games of 2016 with a sports hernia. After 2011, he had only one season with double-digit sacks — 12 1⁄2 in 2014 — and last year he totaled 8 1⁄2 while playing all 16 games for the first time since 2014.
Pierre-Paul’s departure leaves the Giants without any players whom they drafted before 2014 and only one — Odell Beckham Jr. — drafted before 2015.
Harris released. Just hours after the Giants traded Pierre-Paul, they released Dwayne Harris. He was signed as a free agent in 2015 and had been their leading kickoff returner.
Harris, a part-time receiver, played the first five games last season before suffering a fractured foot Oct. 8 against the Chargers. That was the same game in which the Giants lost receivers Beckham, Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard to ankle injuries. Harris underwent season-ending surgery and was placed on injured reserve. — BOB GLAUBER
GIANTS ALL-TIME SACK LIST
Michael Strahan, 141.5
Lawrence Taylor, 132.5
Leonard Marshall, 79.5
Osi Umenyiora, 75.0
Keith Hamilton, 63.0
Justin Tuck, 60.5
Jason Pierre-Paul 58.5
(Sacks became an official NFL stat in 1982)