The New York Giants will meet with defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul on Monday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Pierre-Paul will take a physical with the team for the first time since sustaining a serious hand injury in a fireworks accident on July 4.
This will be the first time the team can actually get a look at the pass rusher's hand since the accident. It's unclear if there are any real expectations for Pierre-Paul for 2015, but sources told Rapoport that the hope is Pierre-Paul will be "ready to play early in the season."
Still, this meeting is hugely important. To this point, the Giants have been unable to even examine Pierre-Paul's medical records, at least according to reports in late August. The two-time Pro Bowler has been rehabbing on his own, though Albert Breer said that he sent the Giants video of his workouts. Still, the team has proceeded as though it'll be without him, but getting a player of his caliber back would obviously be a boost.
"We need a healthy Jason Pierre Paul, certainly," head coach Tom Coughlin said to the media on Monday. "He's a guy who would add to our team provided he's healthy and he can play at the level that he's played at."
Monday's physical could spill into Tuesday, according to Rapoport, who also tweeted an update Monday afternoon:
From @AlbertBreer & me on JPP: He’s landed, getting a physical. His hand is wrapped for protection. No broken bones. He’ll play with a cast.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 7, 2015
If you're a little unclear on what's happened with Pierre-Paul and where things go from here, read on.
How did this all start?
There were plenty of reports and speculation when Pierre-Paul sustained a fireworks-related injury during Fourth of July celebrations. There was reported nerve damage, severe burns on his palms and initially rumors that he could lose his hand. Those were eventually contradicted, but a couple of days later it was reported that Pierre-Paul did have to have his index finger amputated.
Eventually, ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted a picture of Pierre-Paul's medical records that confirmed the amputation, which itself was a story due to the legality issues. The decision to amputate the finger reportedly belonged to Pierre-Paul, as the amputation would accelerate his recovery and allow him to be ready to play sooner rather than later.
Where has Pierre-Paul been?
As of a report from Rapoport in late August, Pierre-Paul's rehab was "progressing very well," and he was working independently to get healthy enough to join the team at some point during the regular season. He was expected at that point to show up to the Giants facility before the start of the regular season, which he's doing on Monday. At that time, it was still unknown if he'd be ready for Week 1 against the Dallas Cowboys.
Pierre-Paul has primarily avoided publicity since the injury, though he appeared to be in good spirits when he tweeted a joke about his missing finger on Aug. 23. On that same day, Pierre-Paul tried to fool the media with a decoy at a charity event, but that didn't trick anyone -- the body double had the wrong hand wrapped.
All we know at this point in Pierre-Paul's rehab is that he has to feel healthy enough to think his first physical with the team since the injury will go well.
What's the contract situation?
This is where things get a little tricky. Pierre-Paul was franchise tagged this offseason, a one-year tender that he has not yet signed that would pay him $14.8 million. Prior to the accident, the two sides were trying to negotiate a long-term contract. The Giants did have one significant offer on the table: a long-term deal worth $60 million overall.
That contract offer was reportedly withdrawn days after the accident. At the time, there was no talk of the team rescinding the franchise tag offer, which would have made Pierre-Paul a free agent. Pierre-Paul wasn't planning on signing the $60 million deal, according to reports at the time. The deadline to get him signed to a long-term deal was July 15, and a pass rusher as valuable as Pierre-Paul likely would have been able to get a deal done.
If Pierre-Paul does sign his tag and if the Giants believe he'd need a few weeks to get ready to play in the regular season, the team could place him on the non-football injury list, which would result in him not being paid for the first six weeks of the season. Presumably, Pierre-Paul is attempting to show the Giants this week that he doesn't need to go on that list, while the Giants will try to get him on a lower-paying contract.
What's next for JPP and the Giants?
Pierre-Paul is one of the league's elite pass rushers, with 12.5 sacks in 16 games in 2014. Since the team took him in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, he's played in 75 games and totaled 286 combined tackles, 42 sacks, eight forced fumbles and two interceptions.
At this point, the best-case scenario for the Giants is that Pierre-Paul can play before the first six weeks of the regular season pass and he doesn't have to go on the non-football injury list. The best-case scenario for Pierre-Paul is that he still has his full range of pass-rush moves at his disposal as he had before the injury, and that he plays well enough to put them in a contract bind at the end of the season.
"I'm not saying anything," Coughlin said Monday. "Maybe he comes in, he's in great shape and the doctors clear him right away, he practices two days and he goes and plays. I don't know. I'm not sure about any of that, but I'm not gonna rule that out, either."
Pierre-Paul will have to convince the Giants that they need to pour massive amounts of money into him in the form of a long-term contract. The Giants will try to determine if that's realistic over the next few days as they examine Pierre-Paul and figure out if he's able to contribute.