The New York Giants have made a habit of moving off of their most prolific pass rushers of late. Outside linebacker Markus Golden, the team’s leading sack getter from a season ago, was recently traded to the Arizona Cardinals for a meager sixth-round pick. Golden’s 10 sacks in 2019 were the most by a Giants player since 2014 when Jason Pierre-Paul amassed 12.5.
While Golden will have to wait until Week 14 to inflict his will on his former team, JPP gets his chance this coming Monday. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ edge rusher is less looking to remind the Giants of what their missing, but rather entering Week 8 with plans to simply “destroy them.”
JPP: ‘I’m Coming for Their Necks’
“Eli [Manning]’s not there no more, so I won’t have to pick him up and say, ‘Eli, man, you good?’” Pierre-Paul told reporters on Friday. “I’m coming for their necks, man. They know that … I’m going to Monday Night Football and going to destroy the Giants. That’s what I want to do as an individual.”
“This game definitely means something special to me. First game [as a Buccaneer against the Giants] I can recall, I got hurt in the Saints game [before it],” Pierre-Paul noted. “We played them for the season opener [and I] got hurt. Played the Giants [again later but I] was hurt with two MCLs. Then, the second game [against the Giants] they played the second season, I wasn’t there. I broke my neck.”
“I finally get to play them this year, I’m fully healed and I’m ready to go,” the Buccaneers’ leader in sacks proclaimed. “I’m trying to see what I can do. I already know what I’m going to do, but I want to see what I can do.”
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Pierre-Paul’s Whirlwind NFL Journey
A first-round pick for the Giants out of South Florida in 2010, Pierre-Paul enjoyed the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in a whirlwind eight-year tenure in New York.
At his best, Pierre-Paul was one of football’s most dominant defensive ends, highlighted by a 2011 campaign in which he accounted for a career-high 16.5 sacks, helping lead the Giants to a Super Bowl XLVI victory over the New England Patriots.
However, a freak hand injury during a firework accident on July 4th halted his career with the Giants back in 2015. Pierre-Paul would go on to have his right index finger amputated. The organization remained loyal to their star defender at the time, signing him to a one-year deal in late October of that year. JPP would appear in eight games with Big Blue that season, collecting just one sack while playing with a massive padded club on his injured hand.
Pierre-Paul would stick around New York for two more seasons beyond that. While he showed glimpses at times, he was never fully able to tap into his pre-injury form. That is, until he found himself a change of scenery.
One year after re-upping Pierre-Paul to a four-year, $62 million contract in 2017, the Giants pulled the trigger on “an offer they couldn’t refuse,” per GM Dave Gettleman. New York shipped Pierre-Paul and a 2018 fourth-round pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for a 2018 third-round and fourth-round pick.
Pierre-Paul would go on to lead the Bucs with 12.5 sacks during his first season in Tampa Bay and has now become a staple for one of the most feared front-sevens in all of football. His 5.5 sacks this season rank fifth in the league and lead the charge for a Buccaneers defense that ranks second in the NFL in team sacks with 25.0.
Yet, despite all his recent success, Pierre-Paul is well aware of how lucky he is to be in the position he is.
“I feel like when I’m on the football field, I’m here [and] I’ve made it. I’m blessed,” he said. “I told myself that if I ever were to get on the football field again, I wouldn’t complain about the small things like somebody stepping on my feet [or] me missing a tackle. I’m just going to go out and play the game [and] have fun like a little kid.”
“Twice it could’ve been taken away from me, but it’s a special gift and God gave it to me. To be honest, when I’m ready to leave this game, I’m going to leave this game.”