None of the moves the New York Giants have made so far this offseason will have as great an impact on the 2014 season as a fully healthy and productive Jason Pierre-Paul would. Pierre-Paul admitted throughout the 2013 season that injuries were keeping him from playing like his old self. And once he felt he was fully recovered from offseason back surgery, he suffered a shoulder injury in November that basically kept him from being able to play again for the rest of the season. Lost year, and he's feeling it, if this tweet from Sunday is any indication:
2013 season was the worse season 4 me, INJURIES held me back. I've been working my butt off this OFF-SEASON I'm so ready for 2014 season.
— Jason Pierre Paul (@UDWJPP) March 30, 2014
Pierre-Paul did not have surgery to repair the shoulder, opting instead for the rest-and-rehab route. He didn't have his back surgery until June last year, so I guess you can't rule out the possibility that he would be set back and have to get the thing fixed yet. But indications are that he's motivated to be ready and full-strength for 2014, and it's impossible to overstate the significance of that for the Giants.
Having lost 2013 sacks leader Justin Tuck to the Raiders in free agency, the Giants are absolutely counting on Pierre-Paul to be their top pass-rusher, which he was before the 2012 and 2013 injury problems. In 2011 and in the first half of 2012, Pierre-Paul was a game-dominating force for the Giants at defensive end. Since it looks as though the starter on the opposite site now will be Mathias Kiwanuka or the still-green Damontre Moore, it's vital that Pierre-Paul return to that form. The Giants strengthened their secondary in free agency but have done nothing on the defensive line. But a healthy Pierre-Paul would have the impact of a major free-agent signing, since they didn't get much from him last year.
Pierre-Paul can be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this coming season, so he has that motivation as well to return and perform at a high level. The Giants have yet to discuss a contract extension with him, likely because they want to see how healthy he is before committing long-term. The ideal scenario would be a fully healthy return of the JPP of old. That's a guy the Giants would be happy to pay.