Jabrill Peppers’ season, and most likely his tenure with the Giants, are over.
The safety was placed on injured reserve Tuesday after suffering a ruptured ACL and a high ankle sprain in Sunday’s win over the Panthers. A free agent after this season, Peppers had seen his on-field role with the team diminish in the first seven weeks of 2021, which made it clear they did not have him in their long-term plans for a secondary in which they have committed to Logan Ryan and Xavier McKinney through the 2023 season.
That didn’t make the loss hurt the team any less, though.
"I know the game means a lot to Pep," Joe Judge said on Monday as the team awaited a formal diagnosis of his injuries. "He’s a tremendous leader on this team and brings a lot to us in terms of production and just leadership on the field."
Peppers is the third Giants captain lost to a season-ending injury. Offensive lineman Nick Gates and linebacker Blake Martinez preceded him. That leaves the Giants with four captains remaining on the active roster: Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Graham Gano and Ryan.
Peppers hurt himself midway through the third quarter Sunday while returning a punt. Before that play he had recorded his first sack of the season, chasing down Sam Darnold. He finishes the year with 30 tackles (19 solo), two tackles for loss, four quarterback hits and one pass defensed.
Perhaps the defining moment of his season came against the Saints when he was ruled out of the game with a hamstring injury but called the overtime coin toss for the Giants. He celebrated the victory when the coin came up heads, and minutes later the Giants had their first win of the season when Saquon Barkley scored on a touchdown.
In his three seasons with the Giants, Peppers finished the schedule only once. He was placed on injured reserve with a serious back injury late in 2019, his first year with the team.
A 2017 first-round draft choice by the Browns, Peppers was acquired in a trade, along with first and third-round draft choices, for Odell Beckham, Jr. on March 13, 2019. He was, the Giants said at the time, the most important piece in that complex deal. They felt it was the equivalent of receiving another first-round pick.
More recently, though, as his playing time waned and trade rumors swirled around him, Peppers’ diminished status with the organization became clear. He held a terse, tense media availability last week in which he was asked if he wanted to remain with the Giants this season and beyond.
"I just want to win, baby," he said. "I want to make plays, go out there and win ball games."
Ironically, that’s what he did on Sunday. Perhaps for the final time in his current uniform.
Notes & quotes: The Giants made a number of roster moves besides putting Peppers on IR. They signed DB J.R. Reed off the Rams’ practice squad and waived CB Josh Jackson and WR David Sills, both of whom could return as members of the practice squad. Reed, 6-1 and 194 pounds, played in one game for the Rams this season and another seven plus two postseason games last year. He was credited with two tackles in the regular season and three (two solo) in the playoffs. He becomes the fifth former Georgia player on the Giants, joining linebackers Lorenzo Carter, Tae Crowder, Azeez Ojulari and tackle Andrew Thomas (currently on injured reserve). Reed's father, Jake, played wide receiver in the NFL for 12 seasons with the Vikings and Saints.