Buccaneers defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul sustained a neck injury in an early-May auto accident. At the time, his timetable for a return was set at five-to-six months. Nearly a month later, that timetable remains at five-to-six months.
“He’s doing good. His spirits are good,” Arians said regarding Pierre-Paul in a Friday appearance on ESPN, via JoeBucsFan.com. “You know, it’s just one of those things, you just wait and wait and wait, and make sure the thing doesn’t displace and not have to have an operation. We got our fingers crossed and are praying for him all the time.”
So when will he be back, if he recovers without surgery?
“I would think it’s at least five months, maybe six,” Arians said.
At this point, six months would knock Pierre-Paul out until December 1. Which means that, at best, he’d open the season on the non-football injury list, return to practice at some point after Week Six, and return to the active roster within three weeks after returning to practice.
Based on how well, or otherwise, the Bucs do in the first three months of the season, the team eventually may decide to just shut him down for the full season.
If that happens, an issue could arise regarding Pierre-Paul’s $13.65 million salary. The Buccaneers won’t be required to pay him while on the NFI list. If he believes he’s ready to return and the team chooses not to bring him back, things could ugly between team and player, with lawyers and doctors fighting it all out in an arbitration.