Jason Pierre-Paul had planned to visit the New York Giants on Wednesday and let them get a second look at his damaged right hand, but that didn't happen. Sources familiar with the situation say Pierre-Paul is still expected to show up within the next week for the next checkup on his hand, but the exact date is not set in stone, and the Giants don't appear to be in any hurry.
Basically, Pierre-Paul wants to play and thinks he's capable of doing so, but the Giants don't agree just yet, and they hold all the cards here.
I don't know how this all will turn out. I don't think anybody does at this point. I do know, based on the reporting I've done on this story over the past several months, a lot about where things stand right now between Pierre-Paul and the team (hint: not great) and a couple of possible ways this whole messy affair could end. So consider this an effort to answer your questions and prepare you for the possible outcomes.
The first thing you need to know is that there's not a lot of trust between Pierre-Paul and the Giants at the present time. This isn't a new development. Pierre-Paul didn't like the way the Giants handled his back injury in 2013, and he felt he didn't get enough credit for rushing back in time to start the season and playing through pain. This is part of the reason he didn't want the Giants' training and medical staff involved in his recovery immediately following the July fireworks accident that cost him his right index finger and part of the reason he turned team trainer Ronnie Barnes away from his hospital room. (Another part of the reason, obviously, is that he didn't want the team to see how bad the injuries were until he had some idea of his own timetable for recovery.)
The Giants, in turn, were confused and upset by Pierre-Paul's decision not to let Barnes in to see him, and some in the organization remain annoyed by the way Pierre-Paul has handled this from the start. They wanted him in their building doing his rehab with their trainers and coaches, and he chose to stay away and rehab on his own until Sept. 7, when he showed up and told them he was ready to play if they could find a way to protect his hand. They told him they disagreed and that they didn't want to pay a franchise-tag price (about $871,000 per week) for a player who might not be able to perform at a franchise level, so they asked if he'd be willing to take less. He said no, and the two sides agreed to meet again in six weeks, which brings us to where we are now.
At the heart of this conflict is, of course, money. Rather than give him the long-term free-agent deal he sought when his rookie contract expired following the 2014 season, the Giants designated Pierre-Paul their franchise player, which for defensive ends this year meant a one-year, $14.813 million contract. This upset Pierre-Paul, too, and he held off on signing the tender and sat out the team's offseason program. It's possible he was planning to sign the tender and report to camp in late July, but that became moot when he blew off his finger with a firework on July 4.
The tender remains on the table, but Pierre-Paul hasn't signed it. If he does sign it, the Giants can place him on the non-football injury list, which would end his season and allow them not to pay him. The Giants could rescind the tender at any time, which would make Pierre-Paul an unrestricted free agent free to sign with any team. But to this point they haven't done that because some in the organization still hope he can return and play for them this season.
So here are some possible outcomes:
Scenario No. 1: Pierre-Paul signs the franchise tender. He can do this at any time, and once he does, the next step is for the Giants to give him a physical. If he passes the physical, they would pay him a prorated portion of his franchise number (again, about $871,000 per week) for the rest of the year. However, if he doesn't pass the physical, the Giants would place him on NFI, which would end his season and allow the Giants to retain control of his rights for 2016 at that same $14.813 million price.
Should the Giants fail Pierre-Paul on the physical, it's possible he could fight them with the help of independent physicians who would certify that he's able to play. That could mean a grievance, with the players' union getting involved, and it likely wouldn't be resolved until after the season. In that case, all Pierre-Paul could hope for would be some back pay. A grievance is clearly a long shot, since the facts of the case involving Pierre-Paul's non-football injury are not in dispute.
Scenario No. 2: Pierre-Paul and the Giants negotiate for a lower salary. The NFL collective bargaining agreement does allow for this. If the team and the player agree, they can negotiate a one-year contract at a lower rate than the market-established franchise number. At this point, the Giants and Pierre-Paul don't seem to be working together toward a resolution, but if that changes, this might be the best way to go. It would allow Pierre-Paul to get paid something this season, albeit far less than what he should have been paid, and it would save the Giants from paying the pre-fireworks price for a post-fireworks Pierre-Paul, who might not be as good a player as he was before the accident.
No negotiations along these lines are currently taking place, and obviously Giants doctors would have to clear Pierre-Paul to play before they could. But there's an amicable solution to be found here if egos can be shelved and expectations can be recalibrated on both sides.
Scenario No. 3: Giants rescind the franchise tag. This would kind of be a favor for Pierre-Paul at this point, because the Giants have no obligation to make this move. It would make him an unrestricted free agent, free to sign with any team. In theory, his agent could find him a team that would sign him through 2016 to a deal that pays him a small amount for the remainder of this season and includes incentives if he's able to rehab and perform at a high level in 2016. The rules prohibit the Giants from doing a deal like this, because you can't sign your franchise player to a multiyear deal after July 15. But if they decide he can't play for them this season and that they're not interested in dealing with this again next year, they could just wish him well and move on from the whole thing.
This is likely to be resolved by Nov. 17, because that's the last date Pierre-Paul can sign the tender and still be eligible to play this season.
I hope that helps you understand what's going on here. There's much more to come, I'm sure.