Oakland Raiders: Five More Free Agent Targets McKenzie Should Pursue
Sep 21, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90) pressures Houston Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
5. Jason Pierre-Paul
Talks between Jason Pierre-Paul and the Giants have apparently not even begun in earnest yet, though the Giants can still potentially franchise tag him. If he is tagged, the Giants would be on the hook for $15M against the cap for him in 2015, and still no guarantee that they can re-sign him to a long term deal. While they may chance it for a cornerstone player of their defense and one of the few remaining players from the 2011 Super Bowl championship defense, it’s a big risk to take and they may choose to just move on, letting JPP hit the open market.
Pierre-Paul, a former first-round pick in the 2010 draft, might be the most accomplished defensive lineman in the league under the age of 26 (he will turn 26 at the end of this month). In five NFL seasons, he has been selected to the Pro Bowl three times and was once named first team All-Pro. He has recorded 42 sacks in his career, and is coming off a strong 12-sack 2014 season. He also has a Super Bowl ring and is a former teammate of current Raiders defensive end Justin Tuck – the two won a Super Bowl together in 2011.
Jason Pierre-Paul is in many ways like a young Justin Tuck. At 6’5″ and about 275 pounds, he has the right size to play 5 technique or even 3-tech, but he has the speed and moves to also be an effective 7-tech rush end. He could either supplant his friend Justin as the Raiders full-time starting 5-tech end or supplant Benson Mayowa and LaMarr Woodley as the full-time starting LEO/weakside 7-tech end.
Of course, Pierre-Paul will not come cheap. He only cost the Giants $4.6M against the cap in 2014, and it’s likely he’ll be looking to nearly double that salary in his next deal. Still, at age 26, averaging nearly one sack per start in his career, he could be a legit long-term starter for this team for the next five or six years. If signed to a front-loaded deal, say one that paid him $12M or $13M this season, he could be hanging around six years from now still contributing but also fitting under the salary cap while players like Khalil Mack and Derek Carr are making the big bucks.
Jason Pierre-Paul, if he hits free agency, is a potential cornerstone player who may not even have hit his prime yet. He has the size, speed and skill set to contribute in a number of ways and the championship background to be a positive veteran presence in the locker room. He’d instantly be the best defensive end Jack Del Rio has ever coached, and Reggie McKenzie can definitely afford to sign him.