As of this weekend it sounded like the New York Giants and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul were about to come to a compromise of sorts on his hand injury and allow him to return to the active roster once he signed his one year Franchise tender this week. According to ESPN’s Ed Werder the two sides had very different opinions of his readiness and no agreement could be reached. JPP has seemingly returned home and the Giants likely wont have their star pass rusher for some time. I wanted to explore what are likely some of the issues here with the two sides to see where things may have broken down.
The crux of the issue between the two sides I dont believe has to do so much with salary this season(though that is part of it) as it does with potential free agency next season. No player in the NFL likes to be on the franchise tag. Whle the annual value of the contract is high and sometimes higher than the player’s eventual long term contract APY, the actual cash value is often 60 cents on the dollar on what the player would receive in year one compensation on an extension. The NFL is a rapidly changing and unforgiving sport and there is no guarantee that the same financial opportunity exists just one year later as well. So when a player gets the tag one time the hope is they never receive it again.
I would imagine that with Eli Manning currently not under contract in 2016 (a situation that may not exist within a few days) JPP feels as if his odds of receiving the tag again in 2016 are slim, especially since the tag value would be a minimum of $17.78 million. However there are certain provisions in the CBA where JPP’s contract would automatically roll over regardless of the Giants franchise tag needs with Manning if JPP was placed on the teams nonfootball-injury list.
I’m a bit hazy on NFI rules when a player is unsigned during the preseason. Typically a player fails a preseason physical and the team has the option on the day of 53 man roster cutdowns to place the player on the NFI list where he can be activated after 6 weeks. Normally any player placed on NFI after that date, unless for a drug related issue, is shut down for the year. Since JPP never passed a physical I would think that list with an option to activate may be possible which would give the Giants at least 6 weeks to evaluate him and make a determination on him for the rest of the year. If in their mind he isnt capable of playing they dont have to pay him a penny and will still control his rights the following season. Clearly that would be unacceptable for JPP if it was an option.
If that short term NFI designation was not an option, the Giants likely wouldnt consider placing him on the list if they felt he could play at some point which is a big reason behind JPP not reporting to the Giants earlier or allowing them to visit him in Florida. Had he come to camp in July or August JPP would have immediately been placed on the NFI list and been under the Giants care leading up to the final designation date for NFI. They would have a good idea how his body was responding to treatments and his physical ability to play. By waiting until Sunday to show up, especially with the assumption that NFI was not an option, his side has controlled the flow of information available to the Giants. All the Giants could go on was a weekend visit and some faith in what they heard from JPP.
However the Giants still likely had another option at their disposal which is the roster exempt list. Players who dont report or have failed to sign their contract by the final cutdown date can be eligible for a special roster exemption granted by the NFL. This would give the Giants two weeks to evaluate JPP and the possibly sit him for the year under some type of NFI designation. I believe that would also toll JPP’s contract as well if it occured.
When it comes to fianances this year, clearly that is a concern. The Giants likely were only willing to restore JPP to good status with the team if he agrees to a contract similar to Greg Hardy’s in Dallas. That type of contract would essentially pay JPP the minimum salary for the year with about $14 million being tied to being on the active 46 man roster. Essentially that gives the Giants control over the finances in return for not using NFI, on which they are not required to pay him a penny. The Giants can also opt to pay him nothing on the exempt list which they would have had to make known to JPP this weekend when discussing his contract.
By returning home JPP will have more control over his fate. As long as he returns capable of playing the prospect of any list that pays him nothing this year or binds him to the team next year will be gone. The major negative for him not returning now is this will effectively end his opportunity to have the 120% raise protection given by the franchise tag. The NFL considers your salary based on when you signed so a $14.8 million franchise tag signed in week 5 is only a $10.8 million contract. So if Manning does sign a deal financially the Giants would be in a spot to definitely use it again on Pierre-Paul. Still that would be better than the alternative of possibly earning zero this year and still being held next season because of the non football injury.
Is JPP holds out the entire season the Giants would still have the ability to tag him next year but the compensation changes from two first round picks to a first and a third round pick. While I dont believe that would prevent the Giants from using the tag it would make him more attractive to a desperate team with cash to throw around and a late draft pick next season. The two first rounders normally ensures player will not be signed to a new contract with another team. From a timeline perspective the only important date comes after week 10. Thats the point where he can not play in the NFL for the season.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.