A year ago, the only franchise-tagged player who remained unsigned at this point in the offseason was Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, who was in the midst of arguing that he should get a wide receiver’s salary rather than a tight end’s. Graham lost that battle and ultimately signed a long-term contract with the Saints just before the annual July 15 deadline.
This time around, four franchised players are still unsigned, and earlier this week, when I asked whether Justin Houston and Dez Bryant would sign multiyear deals with their respective teams by July 15, the majority of you voted that it won’t happen.
Today, we’ll shift our attention to a third franchised player, Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. Out of the four players who have yet to sign their tender, I would have expected JPP to be the most likely to have done so by now. After all, his one-year salary ($14.813MM) would be the highest of the bunch, and he’s arguably coming off the least productive season of the group.
That’s not to say Pierre-Paul didn’t have a strong 2014 campaign — he finished with 12.5 sacks and three forced fumbles, and was the league’s seventh-best 4-3 defensive end according to Pro Football Focus’ grades (subscription required). Still, nine of those sacks came in the season’s last five games, and JPP wasn’t quite the destructive defensive force that a player like Houston was.
In my view, JPP’s high franchise salary, along with his modest career production, makes him the franchise-tagged player most likely to reach an accord with his team and avoid playing the season on a one-year deal. There’s been no sense of animosity between the two sides, and I doubt Pierre-Paul’s contract demands will be quite as significant as what some of the other franchised players may request. Conversely, the Giants may be more open to working out a multiyear contract than some other teams would be, since they’re already budgeting nearly $15MM for JPP in 2015.
What do you think? Do you agree that Pierre-Paul is more likely to sign a long-term deal by July 15, or do you think he – or the team – will drive a hard bargain, ultimately leading to JPP playing out his one-year tender?