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The Giants Are Overpaying Jason Pierre-Paul, and It’s Totally Worth It

With Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul both locked in to long-term deals, New York is parting with a premium for consistency at the most important defensive position in football

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The Deal

After initially disputing reports that he’d signed a new multiyear contract with the New York Giants, Jason Pierre-Paul went back to Twitter and confirmed that it’s a done deal on Friday. The Giants agreed to terms with the pass rusher on a four-year, $62 million deal with a reported $40 million in guaranteed money, including a whopping $20 million signing bonus.

The Appeal

On a one-year “prove it” deal in New York last season, Pierre-Paul allayed concerns that playing with a custom-made glove on his right hand would severely stunt his performance. (The glove, of course, was required after he lost his index finger during a fireworks accident in July 2015.) He racked up 53 tackles, seven sacks, three forced fumbles, and eight pass deflections in 12 games as part of a rejuvenated Giants front.

Pierre-Paul will head into his eighth season in 2017, but he’s still in the prime of his career at 28 years old. At 6-foot-5, 278 pounds, he remains an explosive pass rusher with incredible size and length for his position.

The Fit

Along with the long-term deals New York handed defensive end Olivier Vernon (five years, $85 million) and defensive tackle Damon Harrison (five years, $46.25 million) last spring, re-signing Pierre-Paul means the Giants will keep the core of their fearsome front intact at least through the 2020 season. New York finished with the second-ranked defense per Football Outsiders’ DVOA in 2016, and Pierre-Paul’s ability to get after the quarterback was an integral part of that success.

Pierre-Paul is a proven sack producer, and when opposite Vernon on the edge, he gives the Giants a pair of pass rushers that can defeat one-on-one blocks with consistency. He’s also an excellent run defender, and even without the full use of his right hand, he can both tackle and set the edge on all three downs.

The Verdict

Keeping Pierre-Paul isn’t cheap, and at $15.5 million in average annual value, his contract comes in second among all defensive ends, short of only Vernon’s $17 million yearly rate, per NFL Research. Adding Vernon’s and Pierre-Paul’s contracts together, New York is tying up a huge chunk of its salary cap in the pass rush, but when one considers the Super Bowl–winning Giants teams from 2007 and 2011, both of which relied heavily on dominant defensive fronts, their thinking is understandable.

Paying both Vernon and Pierre-Paul top-of-the-market deals is a risk, as neither player cracked double-digit sacks last year and neither could be considered the best at their position. In paying that premium rate, their flexibility will be limited elsewhere on the roster, but the Giants have locked in long-term security and continuity at the most important position on defense.