Jason Pierre-Paul will be a Giant for a bit longer.
The defensive end, who was slapped with the franchise tag last month after saying in January that he would not play with another such one-year deal, signed a four-year contract Friday with the Giants. The NFL Network, which first reported the agreement, said the deal is for $62 million and another $4 million in incentives with $40 million guaranteed.
Despite the massive payday for Pierre-Paul, the deal is a win-win for both sides.
Pierre-Paul gets the kind of security he hasn’t had since his rookie deal with the Giants as a first-round draft pick in 2010. Since that deal expired, he has played for the Giants under a series of one-year pacts. In 2015, the Giants used the franchise tag on him and were close to agreeing to a long-term deal before Pierre-Paul damaged his right hand in a fireworks accident on July 4.
The Giants rescinded the tag and ultimately signed him to a one-year, $8.7-million deal. He played in eight games that season with a bulky club wrapped around his injured hand in what general manager Jerry Reese later said was a “miracle.” Last offseason, they signed Pierre-Paul to a one-year, $10.5-million contract.
“I’m not playing on no one-year deal,” Pierre-Paul said when the Giants’ 2016 season ended in the first round of the playoffs. “I’ve proved it. I’ve showed it. There is not really another guy like me out here doing it with 7 1⁄2 fingers still.’’
So what do the Giants get?
They get a player who has shown he can be dominant even after the hand injury.
Pierre-Paul, playing with a glove instead of the club on his damaged hand in 2016, was on the field for almost every defensive snap through the first 11 games of the season and was a cornerstone of their defensive turnaround.
He had seven sacks in 12 games, 5 1⁄2 of them in the two games before he suffered a core muscle injury on Dec. 4 that required surgery and cost him the rest of the season.
“It’s great to have JPP around,” coach Ben McAdoo said at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis two weeks ago. “We think highly of him. . . Jason’s a great part of the team, someone who made some progress last year, and it’ll be good to have him back.”
The Giants now have a defensive line that is bound together for the next four years. A year ago, the Giants signed defensive end Olivier Vernon and defensive tackle Damon Harrison to five-year contracts as free agents. Now all three of them are under contractthrough the 2020 season.
And perhaps more importantly, the Giants will get salary-cap relief. Their use of the franchise tag on Pierre-Paul kept him from leaving in free agency, but it also cost them nearly $17 million against the salary cap. Once finalized, the new deal likely will lower that number for 2017 by spreading bonuses and guarantees over the life of the contract.
The Giants, as of the latest NFLPA records, had just $3.9 million in cap space, the second-lowest figure in the league (only the Lions, with $3.25 million, were more strapped).
The added flexibility is expected to allow the Giants to be a bit more active in the second and third waves of free agency that are approaching. It also opens the possibility of the team re-signing defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, who is unlikely to get the $10-million-per-year deal he reportedly is seeking but might return to the Giants on a short-term, prove-it contract.
The kind that Pierre-Paul used to get. The kind he won’t have to worry about for the rest of the decade.