The New York Giants have allowed 32 sacks this season. Jason Pierre-Paul, looking forward with great anticipation to his first game against his former team, has 8.5 sacks for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I wouldn’t say licking my chops, but I know it’s a problem,” Pierre-Paul said Wednesday about the Giants’ pass protection. “But that’s not my problem.”
No, it is not Pierre-Paul’s problem. He is in his first season in Tampa after eight years with the Giants, and he arrives with the Bucs on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, where a pair of last-place teams meet up. Pierre-Paul did not want to go anywhere, but the Giants brought in a new front office and he was traded March 22 to the Buccaneers for a third-round draft pick and a swap of fourth-round picks in the 2019 draft. The trade came only one year into his four-year, $62 million contract extension. He found out via a phone call from new general manager Dave Gettleman, and the lack of any sort of personal touch still chafes at Pierre-Paul.
“That’s the way they went about it, with a phone call, that was it,” he said. “Didn’t hear from anyone else but Dave. Eli [Manning] called me, too, as well. Other than that, that was it.”
Co-owner John Mara did send Pierre-Paul a farewell text, according to a source, but he did not hear back. Pierre-Paul, the Giants’ 2019 first-round pick, received texts from some of his closest friends on the team, including Landon Collins and Zak DeOssie.
Asked if he was hurt by the trade, Pierre-Paul, 29, said: “I won’t say hurt. … The fact the only thing I got was a phone call, you know what I’m saying? Didn’t speak to no owner, no nothing. Obviously, I gave a hard eight years to the New York Giants, and I won a Super Bowl there. The only thing I get was a phone call. I wouldn’t say I was hurt but it was just shocking, you know what I mean? At the end of the day this is a business league and we got to do our jobs no matter what team you play for.”
The Giants did not come close to replacing Pierre-Paul’s pass-rushing prowess. They have a total of 10 sacks on defense — only the Raiders have fewer — and Pierre-Paul nearly has that many by himself, starting all nine games for the Buccaneers.
“Numbers speak for themselves,” he said. “I can’t really say much. I’m not really worried about the sacks there and how much the Giants have on their team. I’m just playing some great football, and I’m just blessed to be getting the opportunity to play the game that I love.
“I don’t have a chip on my shoulder. Obviously New York felt like I couldn’t get the job done. I don’t know who makes those decisions, but that’s the decision they made. No matter where I go, no matter where I would have ended up at, I would still be the same player.”
Looking ahead to a return to where it all started, Pierre-Paul said, “I won a Super Bowl there so no matter what, that’s home for me.” He admitted, “Honestly, I had this game checked out since I left there” and warned, “Emotions are running big and I’m coming, man, I’m bringing the house down.”
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