One year ago, Jason Pierre-Paul was considered to be a cornerstone of the Giants' future. He was given a monster, four-year, $62 million contract that included $40 million in guaranteed money and more than $22 million in the first year.
But one thing new GM Dave Gettleman has made clear is that he doesn't care what the old regime thought or was planning. He has his own ideas about how to fix the Giants. And nothing is going to get in his way.
So JPP became the latest player from the Jerry Reese regime to be dumped, as Gettleman shipped him and his onerus contract off to Tampa Bay, essentially in exchange for a third-round pick. The motivation for the deal, according to a team source, was the size of the contract and what the Giants viewed as JPP's declining production.
They also are serious about undergoing a "culture change" in the locker room, according to a source -- especially on defense, where the Giants weren't particularly thrilled with any of their so-called leaders in what was a very dysfunctional locker room last year.
So it was a combination of many things that led to JPP's ouster. Here's a look at some of the factors, according to multiple sources:
Money - More specifically, cap room
The trade to Tampa Bay leaves $15 million in "dead money" on the Giants' cap this year, though that is actually $2.5 million less than what he would've cost if he was still on the roster. The savings this year weren't the big deal, though. He would've cost $17.5 million in cap space in 2018 and another $19.5 million in 2019. That's way too much for a player whose impact has been diminishing, especially with major contracts looming for safety Landon Collins and receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. in the near future.
JPP had 15 ½ sacks over the last two seasons, and that's pretty good. He's also deflected 13 passes and forced five fumbles. And he's also a very good player against the run. All of that, by the way, is phenomenal when you consider it has come after back surgery and the fireworks accident that blew off part of his hand. But he simply has never lived up to the potential he flashed way back in 2011 when he had 16 ½ sacks and was a candidate for the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year. He's not even what he was in 2014, when he had 12 ½ sacks and a late surge that made it look like he was regaining his form. So he was still a very good player, but not a great player. And the Giants weren't sure he was going to get any better at age 29 and heading into his ninth season.
Glut on the defensive line
The Giants are switching to a 3-4 defense, and they've added a couple of players who can be edge rushers in the new scheme -- LB/DE Kareem Martin and DE Josh Mauro, who are both former Cardinals that played under new Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher last year. They are expected to be significant pieces in this scheme, which made it hard for the Giants to fit both JPP and Olivier Vernon into the rotation since they are similar players. The Giants believe Vernon is better at this stage and versatile enough to make a smoother transition to a 3-4 end.
The Giants were pretty proud of the way JPP handled the aftermath of his fireworks accident in 2015 -- accepting responsibility for his mistake and working hard to salvage his career. He appeared to be a good example for his teammates. But as the locker room dissolved last season he didn't exactly step up as a leader. In fact, one source described him as "disinterested" in any leadership role. That's not to single out JPP necessarily. The Giants don't seem thrilled with many of the players on their overpriced defense, and one source said more changes could be coming (if the Giants can find willing trade partners, of course). They are undoubtedly looking for a leadership change, though, and that should have many veteran defenders wondering if they have a place in the Giants' long-term plans.
Tough offer to refuse
The Giants dealt their fourth- and sixth-round pick to L.A. in the Alec Ogletree trade, and a year ago they dealt their seventh-rounder for CB Ross Cockrell. That left them with five picks in this draft -- not ideal for a team in a pseudo-rebuilding mode. Getting a third-rounder in return now gives the Giants six picks overall, and perhaps more importantly: Four picks in the first 69. That's good value. To get that and find a team willing to take JPP's contract makes this a steal.