With Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul suffering injuries from a fireworks mishap that reportedly aren’t career-threatening, the Giants now must address a more important question regarding his career: Will they rescind his franchise tender?
They can; under Article 10, Section 2(d), the franchise tender can be withdrawn at any time. It would instantly create $14.8 million in cash and cap space, but it also would make Pierre-Paul an unrestricted free agent, free to sign with any team, with no compensation for the Giants if Pierre-Paul signs with a new team.
But if Pierre-Paul signs the contract, he’s entitled to $14.8 million, fully guaranteed. Article 10, Section 2(c) contains a procedure for terminating a franchise player’s contract for failure “to establish or maintain his excellent physical condition,” which would allow the Giants to pull the plug on the contract if, for example, the Giants realize after he signs the tender that his injuries will keep him from playing.
But that likewise would make Pierre-Paul a free agent. There’s one approach that wouldn’t. The Giants could determine that Pierre-Paul won’t be able to play due to a non-football injury, they can place him on the non-football injury list, and they can elect to not pay him. He would be able to file a grievance challenging the designation, but if the medical evidence due to the fireworks-related injuries is clear, he’ll have a hard time prevailing.
Regardless of how it plays out, the Giants have picked up some leverage. Whether by rescinding the tender or terminating the contract or placing him on NFI, they can drop Pierre-Paul’s compensation for 2015 from $14.8 million to whatever another team would pay a guy with an injured hand to, if they choose the NFI route, nothing. This dynamic could push Pierre-Paul’s expectations on a long-term deal toward a range that Giants are willing to satisfy.
At a minimum, the injury could result in a structure that pays Pierre-Paul based in part on his ability to play, primarily through the use of per-game roster bonuses. Since Pierre-Paul is responsible for the injuries that have now created real questions about his ability to play, he should be amenable to a contract that protects the Giants in the event that he can’t.
Either way, the clock continues to tick. The Giants and Pierre-Paul have 10 days to work out a long-term deal, or the only option will be a one-year contract.