*The Giants have signed DE Jason Pierre-Paul to a new contract: *
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants today secured one of the bookends on their defensive line for the long term.
Two-time Pro Bowl end Jason Pierre-Paul signed a four-year contract to remain with the team that selected him in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. A free agent, JPP had received the franchise designation for the second time in three years on Feb. 28. The new agreement guarantees Pierre-Paul will remain with the Giants for the foreseeable future, and continue to team with Olivier Vernon to give the Giants one of the NFL’s best defensive end tandems.
“We're happy to get a long-term deal with Jason,” general manager Jerry Reese said. “Not only is he one of our best players, he is one of our leaders.”
“This is where I wanted to be,” Pierre-Paul said. “I couldn’t imagine me being anywhere else. I’m back for four years and I’m ready to get after it.
“It means a lot to me, because I started here, and obviously I want to finish here. I’ve seen a lot of guys come and go, especially in my (draft) class. I’m the only one left in my class here. It means a lot. We won a Super Bowl here, and I’m looking forward to putting a fifth trophy in the case.”
Pierre-Paul reflected on his journey from untested rookie who soaked up as much as he could from the veteran defensive ends, to the experienced player who now dispenses advice to younger players.
“When I came in I learned from (Justin) Tuck, Osi (Umenyiora), Eli (Manning), Mathias Kiwanuka – all those guys taught me a lot, and I learned so much from them,” Pierre-Paul said. “I used it to try to be the best and try to figure out myself – and I did. I bettered myself, and I’m a pro.”
Pierre-Paul is now the senior member of the Giants’ current line that includes Vernon and All-Pro Damon Harrison.
“We’re going to create history,” JPP said. “We made it to the playoffs, but unfortunately I wasn’t
there to play. But I’m looking to get back to the playoffs this year with that great defensive line that we have, and the great defense that coach Spags (coordinator Steve Spagnuolo) is going to put out there.”
In 2016, Pierre-Paul started the first 12 games of the season before missing the final four regular-season games and the NFC Wild Card Game following surgery to repair a core muscle injury that he suffered at Pittsburgh on Dec. 4. He finished second on the team to Vernon with 7.0 sacks and had 53 tackles (35 solo), eight passes defensed, three forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery that he returned for a touchdown.
JPP played his best football in his final two full games of the season. In a home victory against Chicago on Nov. 20, he tied his career high with 2.5 sacks. The following week, he established a new personal best with 3.0 sacks in Cleveland, where he had five unassisted stops among his seven tackles. He also forced a fumble that was recovered by Kerry Wynn and, more spectacularly, caught a ball Josh McCown had fumbled in midair - after it was forced by Johnathan Hankins - and returned it 43 yards for his third career touchdown. Pierre-Paul was the first NFL player with at least 3.0 sacks and a fumble-return touchdown of at least 40 yards in the same game since 1982, the first year individual sacks became an official statistic. The performance earned JPP his fourth career NFC Defensive Player of the Week Award.
“I was just getting ready, I was just getting my groove back,” Pierre-Paul said. “I was figuring out how everybody was blocking me. Things happen for a reason. I guess it was God’s plan not to finish the season. But I was on a roll. It’s all in the past, and hopefully we’ll get to the playoffs again this year and I’ll actually be in there to contribute.”
A week after his dominant performance in Cleveland, Pierre-Paul’s season ended when he was hurt in Pittsburgh. But that did not detract from his inspiring comeback from the fireworks accident on July 4, 2015, that seriously wounded his right hand. Pierre-Paul missed the first half of that season before returning to start the final eight games. He started every game he played last year. And he believes that 2017 will be even better as he continues to adjust to playing with his surgically-altered hand.
“I’ll be way better,” he said. “Last year, I was still making adjustments. But as time goes on, it’s part of me and I’m going to use it. Every day, I’m learning something new with it.”
Pierre-Paul is entering his eighth season. He has played in 95 regular-season games with 69 starts. In addition to his 50.0 sacks, he has 355 tackles (256 solo), 11 forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries. JPP has twice scored touchdowns on interception returns: a 28-yarder at Dallas on Oct. 28, 2012, and a 24-yarder vs. Green Bay on Nov. 17, 2013. Each of his touchdowns has been in a Giants’ victory.
He started all four games in the 2011 postseason, which concluded with the Giants defeating New England in Super Bowl XLVI. Now he’s after another ring.
“I’m happy to be here, I’m blessed to be here,” he said. “It can’t be any better. I’m a Giant for life right now.”