Jason Pierre-Paul

Bruce Arians Addresses Several Bucs Issues

Coming out of retirement after one year off, Bruce Arians took on an interesting challenge in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers own the NFC’s longest playoff drought at 11 seasons and have a quarterback in Jameis Winston who has not lived up to expectations.

The 66-year-old coach, the oldest to ever be hired, expressed optimism on several fronts recently. He broke down several aspects of the team, including Winston, in an expansive interview with the Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud.

The team did not draft an offensive lineman this offseason and signed only likely backup Earl Watford, but the team did reach an extension with left tackle Donovan Smith and pick up right tackle Demar Dotson‘s 2019 option. Dotson is the longest-tenured Buccaneer at 10 seasons. Dotson is in the final year of his contract — one that pays the 33-year-old right tackle just $3.975MM in base salary this season.

I’m comfortable. I think when we get those guys healthy, when those five guys are out there or four of the five, we’ve been pretty good,” Arians said, via Stroud, of the Bucs’ offensive front. “… “I’ll tell you the guy that probably did better than anybody is Demar Dotson. I mean, he’s competed harder. He’s a pleasant, pleasant surprise.

As for what the Bucs still need, Arians said edge rusher and offensive line swing men remain possibilities for outside pickups. Tampa Bay added Shaquil Barrett earlier this offseason but have Jason Pierre-Paul set to miss at least the first month of the season (and probably more time). The Bucs ranked 32nd in defensive DVOA last season.

There might be a free agent out there. Right now, I don’t know,” Arians said. “We’re always looking on the edge. I mean, defensively, we’re fine. … Offensively, we could use help in the offensive line for depth. You cannot have enough. So we’ll be looking probably around preseason (Game) 3 to see what is available, if we feel that need is still there.”

Pierre-Paul will not undergo surgery for the neck injury he sustained in a May car accident. Considering he registered 12.5 sacks in his first year as a Buccaneer, this obviously leaves a gaping hole on the team’s defense. Arians said recently a five- to six-month recovery may be in the cards for the 30-year-old edge player, which puts his 2019 season in question. In this latest round of comments, however, Arians said that while September is out of the question, he did not want to firmly indicate October would be as well.

I would think so,” Arians told Stroud when asked about if October will be the earliest the edge defender could return. “Just to be safe and not rush it. And knowing him, he’s one of those fast healers. So I hate to put a time limit on him but the earlier the better. As long as he’s healthy.”

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Latest On Jason Pierre-Paul

The prospect of Jason Pierre-Paul missing a sizable chunk of the 2019 season has been mentioned. Bruce Arians recently added fuel to it. Arians said JPP will need at least five, “maybe six” months to recover from the neck injury he suffered in a car accident a few weeks back.

He’s doing good; his spirits are good,” Arians said during an ESPN interview (via JoeBucsFan.com). “You know, it’s just one of those things, you just wait and wait and wait, and make sure the thing doesn’t displace and not have to have an operation. We got our fingers crossed and are praying for him all the time.”

Pierre-Paul will not undergo surgery, which would have ended his second Bucs season before it started, but Arians’ timetable will shelve the Pro Bowler until at least November and possibly into December. Depending on how Arians’ debut Tampa Bay season unfolds, it is certainly possible JPP does not play in 2019. JPP will turn 31 on New Year’s Day. He is due a non-guaranteed $12.5MM in 2020.

The Bucs replaced Gerald McCoy with Ndamukong Suh up front, but on the edge, they are considerably weakened without Pierre-Paul. Carl Nassib (career-high 6.5 sacks last season) returns and will play outside linebacker in base sets. So will offseason addition Shaquil Barrett. The Bucs used a fourth-round pick to select Iowa’s Anthony Nelson, who registered 23 sacks from 2016-18.

Edge rushers still available: Nick Perry, Derrick Morgan, Matt Longacre, Connor Barwin, Michael Johnson and 2018 Dolphin cogs William Hayes and Andre Branch. After the Suh deal, the Bucs do not have much in the way of cap space. And they have three draft picks still to sign.

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Bucs’ Gerald McCoy Discusses Trade Rumors

We’ve been hearing for several months that the Buccaneers have been looking to move on from veteran defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, but the front office hasn’t had much success finding a trade partner. Thanks to the uncertainty, the 31-year-old didn’t show up to the team’s offseason workouts back in April. Despite his absence, McCoy made it clear this week that he’ll suit up for whatever team’s rostering him come the start of the regular season.

“I will be playing football somewhere,” McCoy told Mike Cairns of Spectrum Sports 360 in Tampa (via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com). When asked if he’ll be playing football for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, McCoy said “I don’t know. We’ll see. Fans know I love them. I’ll be on the field at some point.”

Since McCoy hasn’t been generating a whole lot of trade interest, it’s led some to assume that the veteran will ultimately be released by the Bucs. McCoy is due $13MM in 2019, and he is under contract through 2021, with cap charges north of $12MM in each of the next two years. The Buccaneers can move on from the defensive tackle without any dead money ramifications.

As Smith points out, it may be in McCoy’s best interest to attend the team’s voluntary workouts. If the lineman were to get injured, the Buccaneers would be responsible for his entire salary. As a result, his attendance could spark some urgency in the front office. Smith also notes that Jason Pierre-Paul‘s neck injury further complicates matters. There are rumors that the defensive end could be out for six months, meaning the defensive line with further lean on McCoy. The Buccaneers could choose to place JPP on the non-football injury list, a financial move that could change their opinion on McCoy’s roster spot.

In 2018, McCoy ranked fourth among defensive tackles with 21 quarterback hits and finished as the NFL’s No. 28 interior defender, per Pro Football Focus. However, he hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2013, and he hasn’t graded as a top-10 interior defender since 2014.

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Jason Pierre-Paul Won’t Have Surgery, Expects To Play In 2019

The last we heard, it was looking like Buccaneers defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul might miss the entire 2019 season. Pierre-Paul was involved in a serious car accident last week that resulted in a severe neck injury. Fortunately, things appear to be headed in the right direction. 

Pierre-Paul will not have surgery, sources told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Rapoport posted in a follow-up tweet that Pierre-Paul “expects a midseason return.” The original reporting was that the injury was likely to require surgery, and likely to knock him out for the whole year. With surgery no longer an option, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network tweets “the plan is to recheck” on Pierre-Paul’s fractured vertebra “at the 4-month mark.”

Pelissero also writes the “expected timeline is 5-6 months, if not sooner,” on when he’ll return to the field. As Greg Auman of The Athletic pointed out in a tweet, four months from JPP’s injury would coincide almost exactly with the time when the Bucs would need to decide whether or not he’ll open the season on the 53-man roster or the non-football injury list.

From a football perspective, it’s a huge blow for the Bucs. In his first season in Tampa last year Pierre-Paul had a very productive season, notching 12.5 sacks, the second-highest total of his career. The team is expected to either release or trade Gerald McCoy, so the defensive line was already going to be thin even before JPP’s injury.

The Bucs were hoping for a revitalized defense in the first year of the Bruce Arians era, and this certainly isn’t what they were looking for. If he can return on the early side of the 5-6 month timetable, he could be back in October and only miss the first month or so of the season. We’ll keep you posted on the situation.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Jason Pierre-Paul

The car accident in which Jason Pierre-Paul was involved may keep him out of football in 2019. But JPP and the Buccaneers are not conceding that yet.

Pierre-Paul requiring surgery for the neck injury he sustained would keep him out up to six months, putting his 2019 availability in question. Upon looking at JPP’s scans, the Buccaneers grew concerned the edge rusher suffered a fractured vertebrae in his neck, James Palmer of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). But JPP is seeking out several other medical opinions.

JPP plans to send the results of those tests to “several” other doctors this week, per Palmer, who adds hope remains that surgery will not be necessary and that the ninth-year player could be back in time for Week 1.

While Jason was treated and released in south Florida the same day of the accident, we wanted to ensure that our medical team had an opportunity to perform a thorough evaluation here in Tampa, and that process is currently ongoing,” Bucs GM Jason Licht said.

The Bucs received a 12.5-sack season from Pierre-Paul in 2018, it doubling as Tampa Bay’s double-digit sack season since 2005. He obviously remains a key figure in Tampa Bay’s defense — even as it moves to a 3-4 look, a scheme in which JPP has not played as an NFLer. Tampa Bay drafted a pass rusher, Iowa’s Anthony Nelson, but waited until Round 4 to do so. The Bucs signed Shaquil Barrett this offseason. Prior to the injury, JPP was not attending Bucs offseason workouts.

This marks the second major off-field injury for JPP, who suffered severe hand damage in a 2015 fireworks accident, and the second straight offseason in which the Bucs have dealt with an off-field injury. Kendell Beckwith did not play last season because of an ankle injury sustained in a car accident.

With Pierre-Paul’s $7.5MM injury guarantee becoming a full guarantee in March, the Bucs have little recourse here when it comes to the salary cap. But it’s certainly possible the team looks for another pass rusher in free agency. Gerald McCoy is expected to be released, if no trade can be reached, freeing up $13MM in cap space. The Bucs hold just $1.8MM in space, so they would have to create some space before pursuing one of the UFA edge rushers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucs’ Jason Pierre-Paul Could Miss Season

The early word after Jason Pierre-Paul‘s car crash indicated that he was not seriously injured. Unfortunately, that no longer appears to be the case. The Buccaneers defensive end may be in danger of missing the entire season due to a neck injury suffered in the accident, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter) hears. 

At this time, the belief is that Pierre-Paul will require surgery, which would almost certainly rule him out for the year. Pierre-Paul led the Bucs with 12.5 sacks last season, but the club will need to find pass rush pressure elsewhere in 2019.

Of course, this isn’t the first time that an off-the-field injury has held JPP back. On July 4, 2015, Pierre-Paul lost his right index finger in a fireworks accident. To the surprise of many, he bounced back to register 15.5 sacks across 28 games in the following two seasons. Hopefully, Pierre-Paul can rebound similarly after his neck malady.

Roughly half of Pierre-Paul’s $14.9MM salary for 2019 became guaranteed in March, so the Bucs have little recourse here when it comes to the salary cap. They also have very little in the way of cap flexibility, so it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to get in on the bidding for Ezekiel Ansah and other impact edge rushers left on the market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucs’ Jason Pierre-Paul Involved In Car Accident

Buccaneers defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was involved in a single-car accident early Thursday morning, which TMZ first reported. The team has since confirmed the news.

Luckily, it appears that JPP was not seriously hurt. He did, however, seek medical attention at a South Florida-area hospital, as Jenna Laine of ESPN.com writes. GM Jason Licht issued the following statement:

“We have been informed that Jason was involved in a one-car accident early this morning in South Florida in which he was not cited. We know that he was evaluated at a local hospital and has since been released. Our immediate concern is for the safety and well-being of Jason and his passenger. We have been in contact with Jason and will be getting him further evaluated by our medical staff in the near future.”

As Licht notes, Pierre-Paul did not receive a citation, and TMZ indicates that he wasn’t speeding or otherwise engaged in any wrongdoing. It was simply an accident.

This sounds like it will have a much happier ending than JPP’s last offseason incident, in which a fireworks accident ultimately led to the amputation of his right index finger.

As Greg Auman of The Athletic observes, this is becoming sort of a Buccaneers family tradition (Twitter links). Last spring, LB Kendell Beckwith was involved in a car accident that forced him to miss the entire 2018 campaign and that has put his career in jeopardy. The year before, RB Doug Martin was in a car accident, though he did not sustain any serious injuries as a result.

Pierre-Paul posted 12.5 sacks for Tampa Bay last season, his first with the Bucs, and he will be counted on to spearhead the club’s pass rush again in 2019. Laine notes that JPP has not been in Tampa for the Bucs’ offseason program, opting to spend time with family instead, just as he did last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Giants, Cowboys, Brown

With Landon Collins and Olivier Vernon out of the picture, the Giants‘ defense has plenty of needs. Second-year GM Dave Gettleman has also jettisoned Jason Pierre-Paul, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Eli Apple and Damon Harrison from the team since taking over. Collins’ reputation as a box safety, albeit one of the best in the NFL, looks to have played into the Giants’ reasoning for refusing to use an $11MM-plus franchise tag on him, with Ralph Vacchiano of SNY noting the team did not always believe the All-Pro defender was an adequate cover man. Gettleman considered the contracts handed out to both Pierre-Paul and Harrison as onerous, and Vacchiano adds neither Pro Bowl player was viewed as a plus locker room presence. That said, the Giants have one of the least talented defenses in the NFL, boasting deficiencies at nearly every spot going into free agency. It would seem that would be where Gettleman looks to improve in the next two months.

Here is more out of the Big Apple and the latest from the NFC East:

  • While the Giants already have two monster contracts on their offensive line now, having acquired Kevin Zeitler‘s $12MM-AAV deal, they are going to pursue a right tackle in free agency. Big Blue will “almost certainly” add a right tackle on the market, per Vacchiano, who adds former Gettleman draftee Daryl Williams may be a top target. Williams was a fourth-round Gettleman pick in 2015 but is coming off an injury-nullified season. The Giants tried to sign former Gettleman find Andrew Norwell last year, so Williams will be a name to monitor in the coming days.
  • Sean Lee‘s Cowboys restructure will slash his 2019 salary from $7MM to $3.5MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Although Lee has seen younger linebackers replace him as Dallas’ go-to second-level defenders, the Cowboys will keep the veteran around. One season remains on Lee’s contract.
  • If the Raiders are now the team to beat regarding Antonio Brown, the Eagles should not be completely discounted. Philadelphia is the other destination CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora is hearing in the Brown sweepstakes as of Saturday (Twitter link). The Eagles have been hard at work clearing cap space; they are north of $24MM now — before Michael Bennett‘s $6.2MM salary comes off their books. It would be interesting to see the team clear so much off its roster to add a player who has produced so much drama, but the Eagles have not been averse to splash moves in recent years.
  • Connected to a safety upgrade for many months, the Cowboys may opt to seek second-tier options at this position. Extensions for their homegrown standouts may price the Cowboys out of the high-end safeties on this year’s market, Josina Anderson of ESPN.com tweets. The Cowboys remain connected to Earl Thomas, and Richard Sherman said recently his former teammate would choose Dallas if the offers were equal. Another report confirmed no discount was coming. But they may well not end up being equal, complicating this long-rumored partnership. But plenty of safety help will be available next week.

Buccaneers Notes: Monken, Koetter, Pierre-Paul, Jackson, Hargreaves

The Buccaneers’ offensive explosion in Week 1 caught pretty much everybody by surprise. The Bucs scored 48 points and won fairly easily on the road in New Orleans. Ryan Fitzpatrick had one of the best games of his career, throwing for 417 yards and four touchdowns and no interceptions.

Although it was mostly the same personnel from previous seasons, there was at least one major change. Offensive coordinator Todd Monken was calling plays instead of head coach Dirk Koetter according to Jenna Laine of ESPN. Koetter had always called plays during his time in Tampa Bay, but relinquished the play calling duties to Monken after he excelled in the role during the preseason. If Week 1 is any indication, it doesn’t look like Koetter will be asking for the responsibility back anytime soon.

Here’s more from Tampa:

  • The injuries just keep piling up for the Bucs on defense. Vernon Hargreaves was recently placed on injured reserve, top corner Brent Grimes‘ status is still unclear, and now star defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has a knee injury according to Laine (Twitter link). Pierre-Paul told Laine his knee was “jacked up” and that while he hopes to play this Sunday he’s “not really sure” if he’ll be able to.
  • The injuries aren’t only on defense. Receiver DeSean Jackson is in the concussion protocol according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). In addition to the concussion, Jackson is nursing a minor shoulder injury and it’s unclear if he’ll be able to go Sunday against the Eagles, although at this point it looks like he’ll probably play assuming he clears the protocol.
  • It was reported earlier this week that Hargreaves would miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury, and now more details are in. The 11th overall pick of the 2016 draft has a torn labrum according to Laine. Although he struggled his first two years in the league, Hargreaves reportedly had a very strong camp to win the starting job, and it’s a huge blow to the Bucs’ already thin secondary.

NFC Notes: Beckham, Rams, Pierre-Paul

Lots has been written about Giants All-Pro wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and his contract. Beckham has stayed away from the team this offseason as he angles for a longterm deal. He’s also still rehabbing from a devastating ankle injury that cost him most of the 2017 season, but expects to be fully cleared soon.

The ankle may have something to do with why the Giants have been slow to engage Beckham in extension talks, writes Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. Vacchiano thinks the Giants want Beckham to prove he’s fully healthy and capable of being the same explosive player he was before the injury before they commit to him longterm, writing in regards to his ankle “yes, that is one of the reasons contract negotiations haven’t really gotten going.”

Vacchiano thinks it “would be crazy to give Beckham the kind of money he wants – perhaps $20 million per year, perhaps as much as $60 million guaranteed and $100 million total – without being absolutely sure he’s fully healthy and the same player.” It will be interesting to see if the Giants do indeed play hardball with Beckham, and Beckham’s situation will surely be one of the biggest stories in the league this summer.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Jason Pierre-Paul didn’t show up for a single OTA practice, according to Jenna Laine of ESPNBuccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter said it wasn’t a huge deal that Pierre-Paul didn’t show up, but it’s certainly not ideal for a team that traded two draft picks to acquire the defensive end. Laine did report that Pierre-Paul is expected to be with the team for their mandatory minicamp.
  • The Rams are the only remaining defendant in Reggie Bush‘s lawsuit after the city of St. Louis was dismissed from the case, according to Joel Currier of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Bush is claiming the Rams are responsible for slippery concrete that caused him to suffer a season-ending knee injury when he was with the 49ers.
  • In case you missed it, it appears that David Johnson and the Cardinals may soon iron out an extension for the star running back.