Jason Pierre-Paul has been a vital part of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense during the last two years and the Bucs need to bring him back for 2020.
The start of Jason Pierre-Paul‘s tenure in Tampa Bay was one that was marred by skepticism. There were concerns about Pierre-Paul’s hand injury from 2015 following a freak firework accident at home, he was hitting 30 years old, and his production in New York wasn’t what it once was. Despite all of this, people often forget that JPP moved to Tampa coming off a final season for the Giants playing all 16 games and getting 8.5 sacks.
We’ve seen Pierre-Paul fully justify his payday in Tampa and then some over the past 2 years. A total of 21 sacks over the past two seasons evidences that he is a cornerstone player and a huge reason for the up-turn on the Buccaneer defense.
So the question must be asked – if the Bucs can only re-sign Shaquil Barrett OR Jason Pierre-Paul for the 20/21 season, who should they choose? While many fans may see this as a no-brainer today, these two players may be closer than the 2019 stats revealed.
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Luckily it doesn’t appear that the Buccaneers will have to make the difficult decision between these two players. All signs are pointing to both players returning to Tampa, but it’s an interesting debate nonetheless.
Understandably, most of the other outstanding players on the Bucs defense aren’t receiving the same amount of love as Shaquil Barrett following year end. Shaq was a monster last year, accumulating a ridiculous 19.5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles and 1 pick. Many Bucs fans see re-signing him as the main priority this off-season, and I don’t blame them.
Don’t get me wrong, Barrett is clearly an outstanding football player, but it’s no coincidence that pairing him alongside elite defensive players in Vita Vea, Lavonte David, Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul resulted in him producing career numbers following a few ordinary years in Denver.
JPP has been one of the most productive defensive players in the league since he was drafted out of South Florida by the Giants in 2010. He’s always been a problem and opposition coaches will highlight him as a key area to stop when facing the Bucs.
As a result, less well-known dangers (like Barrett was at the start of the year) are freed up to face weaker blockers, and receive all the accolades when getting sacks. I’ll reiterate that Barrett is a phenomenal player but he has been aided by perhaps an even better player in JPP.
Pierre-Paul managed to get himself 8.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles this year despite frequently facing the opposition’s best offensive linemen and often facing double teams. Pierre-Paul’s season was even more impressive considering that many wondered if he would ever be able to play football again after fracturing his neck last summer.
For me, Pierre-Paul coming back to Tampa next year has to be the priority for Licht and Arians and he deserves whatever he asks from the Buccaneers organization. He is 31 years old now, but that experience is vital and can be used to help up-coming stars like Vea and Devin White. Pierre-Paul is able to bring in a level of leadership that offsets any concerns about his age.
The current Buccaneers defence isn’t quite at the level of the legends of 2003 just yet. While this isn’t the case now, steps can be taken in the right direction by keeping JPP and Shaq along with a few smart draft and free agency moves to take the Buccaneer defense to the next level in 2020.
BUCS FANS – What are your thoughts on bringing JPP back to Tampa? Is he the most important piece on the Bucs defence? Let us know your thoughts!