Giants Make First Free Agent Decision by Assigning Franchise Tag to DE Jason Pierre-Paul

The biggest question going into this offseason for the New York Football Giants was whether or not they were going to continue their relationship with embattled star defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. That was answered on Monday when they assigned the franchise tag to the former All-Pro on Monday, two full days before the league deadline.

The Giants will now attempt to work out a long-tern deal with JPP before the current league year ends on March 9, which is also the first day NFL unrestricted free agents can sign with new teams. The club hopes to lower JPP’s 2017 estimated $17 million tag price by inking him to a multiyear contract with deferred money.

Big Blue is estimated to have around $30-33 million in cap space to operate with this offseason and the $17 million bite JPP’s tag takes out of that will severely limit them in their pursuit of other free agents. The quicker they can get his name on a contract, the more flexibility they will have.

The decision to tag JPP was an easy one for the Giants. He has come all the way back from the debilitating hand injury he suffered during an infamous Fourth of July fireworks mishap back in 2015 that severely damaged his right hand. Last season, Pierre-Paul rebounded by recording seven sacks in 12 games with three forced fumbles and 24 QB hurries. He missed the final four games and the postseason with a sports hernia, but that did not deter the Giants from prioritizing the 28 year-old pass rusher this offseason.

Pierre-Paul’s agent, Doing Hendrickson, says although his client will be tangled up in blue in 2017, the two sides are not close on a new contract. Should the deal not get done before July 15, JPP will play under the franchise tag terms and be eligible for free agency once again come next March.

It also means the Giants will have three of their top five salary cap hits for 2017 dedicated to the their defensive line. QB Eli Manning has the highest cap hit at $19.7 million. JPP’s $16.996 million would be next followed by DE Olivier Vernon ($16 million), CB Janoris Jenkins ($15 million) and DT Damon Harrison ($10.6 million).

The Giants are said to interested in signing a veteran offensive tackle in free agency and also make some other minor moves. They have been rumored to have interest in veteran Ohs Russell Okung and Andrew Whitworth as well as others. Whether or not they have the financial resources this month to pursue them will likely depend on if they can get JPP under contract.

Earlier this week, the Giants re-signed long-snapper Zak DeOssie and are hoping to bring back both DT Johnathan Hankins and LB Keenan Robinson, but again, how successful they will be hinged on their ability to lower JPP’s cap number. Hankins is expected to draw interest in free agency and his price may be out of the Giants’ range regardless of what happens. Robinson was a pleasant surprise after signing with the Giants last year as a free agent and his price is expected to be around $4-5 million per.

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