Jason Pierre-Paul's recent actions -- on top of already existing concerns about him -- should be enough for the New York Giants to rescind his franchise tag tender of $14.8 million.
But there is one problem: They can't.
The Giants have had back-to-back losing seasons for the first time in a decade, back when the franchise was transitioning from Jim Fassel to the Tom Coughlin era and from veteran quarterbacks to Eli Manning. For a franchise as storied as Big Blue, that just doesn't cut it. Everybody in the front office knows this is a win-or-else season.
There are no more excuses, even though the injuries to Pierre-Paul and left tackle Will Beatty are unfortunate, to be sure. There are no more generational rookies like Odell Beckham, Jr. to swoop in during the second half of the year to save people's jobs. They have to win this season, or else changes will be made.
That's why general manager Jerry Reese won't rescind Pierre-Paul's tag. Even missing an index finger, JPP is by far the best pass rusher the Giants have and thus their best chance to have a decent defense. In a competitive division like the NFC East, they need someone who will strike some fear into the hearts of opposing offenses. Half of Pierre-Paul's 12 sacks season came against divisional foes.
It's a bad position for the Giants to find themselves in, because you have to think team president and co-owner John Mara is wondering if paying Pierre-Paul $925,000 per game this season makes fiscal sense.
Let's start with the prospects for a long-term deal, which is extremely bleak at this point. The Giants reportedly pulled a five-year, $60 million offer with half that money guaranteed after Pierre-Paul's 4th of July fireworks accident, but it is really immaterial, because there was no chance he was going to sign. That means JPP is going to play this season under a one-year deal. It's also very likely that he'll hit the free-agent market in 2016, because the Giants aren't going to tag him again next offseason for $17.76 million on another one-year deal. No way.
So if you start with the premise that a long-term deal won't get done before free agency next year, it should crystallize the Giants' options even more. Do they really want to bid against 31 other teams for a player who has had inconsistent production, chronic back issues, immaturity questions and -- most recently -- outright insubordination when he refused to see Giants head trainer Ronnie Barnes and player liaison Jessie Armstead after the fireworks mishap, even though they flew down to his hospital in Florida to check on him?
Yes, Pierre-Paul had an amazing 2011 season and a strong finish over the last five games last year against the Jaguars, Titans, Redskins, Rams and Eagles after the Giants were long out of playoff contention. Other than that, though, he hasn't really established himself as a reliable star.
Even before this latest fluke injury, the skilled defensive end wasn't the picture of health. He had to undergo back surgery in the summer of 2013. As a guy who had a similar procedure during my playing days and has spoken with many others who have as well, I can tell you that JPP may be able to play for a while, but the pain and/or stiffness never really goes away. It is always there, lurking around, in some way, shape or form.
Then there's the maturity issue, and it goes beyond his dubious decision to personally handle fireworks in the manner that led to the accident. It is buying a "U-Haul's worth of fireworks" in the first place. It is being the guy that carried Prince Amukamara all the way down the hallway and dumped him into the cold tub in that pathetic video from 2012. It's former teammates like David Diehl wondering publicly about his commitment.
And now Pierre-Paul is refusing to even talk with anybody from the organization that drafted him in the first round in 2011, had offered him a significant long-term contract and is evidently willing to pay him close to $15 million for this one season.
If you are Mara, does it really make sense to give Pierre-Paul that money this season given all of the other factors at play and the fact that he will -- at minimum -- likely miss all of training camp as a result of his broken thumb, amputated finger and any other hand injuries he suffered in the fateful fireworks explosion?
The odds of him to producing to the tune of $925K per game coming off this injury are slim to none. Mara has to realize that. Deep down, Reese and Coughlin probably know it as well.
Problem is, it's still the best -- and only -- shot the Giants have.