Jason Pierre-Paul and the Buccaneers agreed to a restructured contract back in September that allows JPP to become a free agent at the end of the season. The two sides came to that agreement because JPP suffered a significant neck injury in an offseason car accident, and while Tampa could have avoided paying his 2019 salary at all, it would have been a bad look for the team to not pay a player whose injury came in a car accident in which he wasn’t even cited.
JPP has hit many of the incentives in the reworked deal, so he will still end up taking home a nice chunk of money for the 2019 season, and the Bucs’ decision has apparently preserved their relationship with the talented pass rusher. Though Pierre-Paul will be able to hit the open market in 2020, he would love to return to Tampa, as Jenna Laine of ESPN.com writes.
Pierre-Paul will turn 31 on January 1, but he has played very well since returning to the field in Week 8, which is a continuation of his strong play from 2018, his first year with the Bucs. As Laine notes, JPP has also become one of the most vocal leaders in the locker room, and other players have gravitated towards him.
One way or another, Pierre-Paul is not considering retirement, and he is optimistic that Tampa Bay is heading in the right direction under head coach Bruce Arians and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Negotiations with the Bucs (or any other team) could be complicated by the neck injury, but Pierre-Paul says his neck is completely healed and is “just like everyone else’s.”
As one league executive told Laine, if JPP’s physical is clear, he should have no issue finding a job, and given the contracts that pass rushers have been bringing home, he can reasonably expect a lucrative, multi-year pact.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.