Giants receive: Buccaneers’ third-round pick (no. 69 overall), fourth-round pick (no. 108)
Buccaneers receive: Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, Giants’ fourth-round pick (no. 102)
After the trade, Giants general manager Dave Gettleman called Pierre-Paul on the phone and said the deal was “an offer they couldn’t refuse,” according to Kimberly Jones of NFL Network. A third-round draft pick doesn’t seem like a typical Godfather Offer, but considering Pierre-Paul’s contract, Gettleman might be right.
Last March, Pierre-Paul signed a four-year deal with the Giants with $40 million guaranteed and the potential to reach $62 million. He is set to have the eighth-highest cap hit ($12.5 million) among defensive ends this season, but is tied for the 23rd most sacks in the last two years combined, and his cap hit would rise to $14.5 million in 2019. Pierre-Paul is an above-average pass rusher, but he was being paid like a top-10 sack artist, and he may have seen diminished playing time in new defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s system. By trading him, the Giants clear $2.5 million in space this year (while eating $15 million in dead money) but save all of his $14.5 million hit in 2019. Considering the Giants will need a Siberian cargo plane to pay Odell Beckham Jr. and Landon Collins when their contracts end after this year (not to mention the massive contracts the team has handed out to Eli Manning, Nate Solder, Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins, and Damon Harrison), it makes sense that the Giants took a third-round pick for a player whose production may not match his salary.
When I asked JPP about playing for Tampa Bay, he mentioned going back to where he played college ball (South Florida) and emphasized significance of being closer to his son, little JPP. #NYG— Kimberly Jones (@KimJonesSports) March 22, 2018
Pierre-Paul will be a welcome sight in Tampa Bay, which hasn’t had an effective pass rush in years. The Bucs were dead last in sacks last season with 22, just five more than Arizona’s Chandler Jones had by himself. Now they’ve flipped a third-rounder for Pierre-Paul, whose 8.5 sacks would have led the Bucs in 2017 (and 2016, and tied for the lead in 2015, and tied for the lead in 2014). The trade comes a week after the team signed Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry to a three-year deal with $11.5 million guaranteed. That signing came after the Buccaneers reportedly tried to trade for Rams defensive end Robert Quinn earlier this month, but lost out to the Dolphins, who sent a fourth-round pick to L.A (the teams also swapped sixth-rounders). With Pierre-Paul and Curry heading to Tampa Bay, the Bucs have finally given defensive tackle Gerald McCoy help along Tampa Bay’s D-line.
How Does This Affect the Giants at the No. 2 pick?
The Giants’ choice at no. 2 will define the top of the draft. At various times this offseason the team has been rumored to select Saquon Barkley, Joshmar Darnfield, or trade back with a QB-needy team for a haul of picks. Now the rumor storm is swirling with the speculation that New York will select NC State pass rusher Bradley Chubb to replace Pierre-Paul, but that logic might be the tail wagging the dog.
Gettleman spent 15 years (1998–2012) in the Giants front office, and the team won two Super Bowls in large part by stacking talent at defensive end. Rostering Chubb and Pierre-Paul would not be mutually exclusive, and they might be stronger together—the Giants didn’t need to send JPP packing to clear space for Chubb. If anyone understands this, it’s Gettleman. It’s more likely that Pierre-Paul’s big cap hit, age (he’s a year away from 30), and plateauing level of play contributed to the “offer they couldn’t refuse” rather than any strategy for the draft did.
The more interesting question at no. 2 is whether the Giants will go all in on Eli Manning or plan for life after him. A selection like Chubb or Barkley would indicate one last-ditch effort to maximize a Super Bowl window and a confidence that Manning has at least two years left, drafting a quarterback would trigger a succession plan, and moving down would be somewhere in between. Trading Pierre-Paul shows the Giants have a plan, but until we see what the Giants do at no. 2, we won’t know what it is.