Jason Pierre-Paul's damaged right hand is fit enough to sign a contract. Now the Giants will see how effective it can be on a football field.
The defensive end who lost his right index finger and suffered other injuries to his hand in a July 4 fireworks mishap signed a one-year, incentive-heavy contract with the team Tuesday night. Pierre-Paul was re-examined by the team's medical staff Monday and the two sides worked toward an agreement throughout Tuesday.
The Giants will receive a two-week roster exemption and Pierre-Paul could be on the field with his team at Wednesday's practice. If all goes well, he could make his 2015 debut either Nov. 15 against the Patriots or Nov. 29 against Washington (the Giants have a bye Nov. 22).
Though some in the organization remain skeptical of what Pierre-Paul will be able to accomplish on the field, the team decided to take a chance -- a guarded one given the playing time and performance incentives in the deal -- and find out rather than simply speculate.
"I'm very excited to be back," Pierre-Paul said in a statement through the team after inking the contract. "I'm getting ready to do what I have to do. I've been training down in South Florida with my trainer. Every day, I got up at 7:30 and lifted weights, I've been doing what I have to do to stay in football shape."
Asked how he feels, JPP said: "I feel younger."
His effect on the field may be an as yet unanswered question, but his return to the locker room is certain to bolster the morale of a team that has managed to go 4-3 and hold sole possession of first place without the aid of their most dynamic defensive player.
"It is just good to have Jason back in our building," Tom Coughlin said. "You can feel his energy and his desire to overcome what he has had to endure since July. His spirit is undeniable, and he is anxious to get to work with [defensive line coach] Robert Nunn and Spags [defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo], as well as our medical and strength and conditioning people."
"We all are excited to see Jason," general manager Jerry Reese said. "He has worked very hard to get himself back into position to join the team and work toward getting on the playing field on Sundays."
It's been a long road for the player and the team. Pierre-Paul damaged his right hand in a fireworks explosion July 4 and for most of the next two months was largely incommunicado with the Giants. Pierre-Paul even turned away a team of Giants officials who traveled to Florida to visit him in the week after he had surgery to amputate the index finger. The team was so much in the dark about his status and recovery that when training camp began, Giants president John Mara said he wasn't even sure how many fingers Pierre-Paul had left.
Then came Pierre-Paul's arrival in New York on Sept. 7. He showed up hoping to sign his $14.8-million tender as a franchise-tagged player, but after team doctors got their first look at his injuries, they determined he was in no condition to play immediately. Pierre-Paul was sent home to continue his rehab and training and told to return when he was closer to getting onto the field.
That happened this week.
Pierre-Paul may not be the player he was, but he should add some threat to the team's pass rush. He's the only player on the roster to have a 10-sack season and is a two-time Pro Bowler. The Giants have just nine sacks through seven games, the second-fewest in the league.
"I'm just here to help the team out," Pierre-Paul said. "I'm blessed to play the game, and I'm excited about the opportunity to play again."