Jason Pierre-Paul still dreams of a big free-agent payday. He was dreaming that dream a year ago, before the July 4 fireworks accident that cost him his right index finger and half of his 2015 season, and he was dreaming it again for the last several weeks as he awaited the start of free agency. While the Arizona Cardinals definitely had interest in signing him away from the New York Giants, he didn't find the deal of his dreams, so it makes perfect sense that he decided to go back to the Giants for one more year.
It makes sense for the Giants, too.
The Giants need pass-rushers, plural. They wanted and needed Pierre-Paul back because their roster lacks ready replacements for him and only two teams in the league finished with fewer sacks than the Giants had in 2015. Even with Pierre-Paul back in the fold, the Giants will continue to be aggressive in pursuit of more edge rushers and defensive linemen, both in free agency and in the early part of the draft.
They also wanted Pierre-Paul because of what they saw in him upon his return. They saw that he had his same old speed and burst off the edge and an ability to get into the backfield and make life harrowing for opposing quarterbacks. They also saw a renewed dedication and seriousness of purpose. Pierre-Paul returned somewhat humbled by the accident, grateful for the opportunity to continue playing and mellowed by all that had happened to him in 2015, including becoming a father for the first time.
Things weren't perfect, of course. Due to the damage to his hand, Pierre-Paul had to play with a heavy club wrap that made it difficult for him to grab and tackle players and even at times to shed blocks. He had only one sack last year and admitted toward the end of the season that he couldn't tackle with the club on his arm. His hope is that the surgery he had on his hand immediately following the season will help him grip better with it and play with a four-fingered glove instead of the club, but until he gets into a game it's impossible for him, the Giants, the Cardinals or any other team to know that for sure.
Which is why it makes sense, absent a deal that goes well beyond the one-year, incentive-laden deal the Giants were offering, for Pierre-Paul to continue the next phase of his recovery in the place where he's most comfortable. This was a big part of the Giants' pitch over the last few weeks as they kept in contact with him and his doctors -- that the best thing for him would be to thrive in 2016 with a team that knows and loves him and then hit free agency again next year at 28. Maybe they end up signing him long-term, maybe someone else does, but in the meantime they can still help each other.
And the Giants do need the help. Their pass rush needs to be better than it was last year, and they will continue to work on that, pursuing free-agent options like Charles Johnson, Olivier Vernon and Derrick Shelby among others and likely addressing the pass rush with the No. 10 pick in next month's draft. While they will continue to look at other options, the Giants believe that (a) Pierre-Paul will play better than he did last year with a full offseason to work out and hopefully a surgically improved hand and (b) even if he plays exactly the same as he did last year, he's an asset to their pass rush.
So this is a good move both ways. It's the move with which the Giants hoped to begin their offseason, and it's done, so they can turn their attention to the significant work they have to do to build the defense around Pierre-Paul. Pierre-Paul can get to work knowing he's going to play and recuperate for at least one more year in the place where he feels the most comfortable.