Jason Pierre-Paul had a repair procedure performed on his right middle finger three days before the New York Giants examined his hand last week. The condition of that finger and the fact that the defensive end also is missing the tip of his thumb and his entire index finger has led to some increased pessimism among team decision-makers about his prognosis, sources told ESPN.
Pierre-Paul remains convinced that he will play again this year, sources with knowledge of his thinking have said, and thinks it will be relatively soon.
But another source said the Giants don't plan to see Pierre-Paul again for another five or six weeks and that if the hand isn't healed to their satisfaction by then, they will consider rescinding his $14.81 million franchise tender.
Multiple sources confirmed to ESPN that Pierre-Paul is missing a portion of his thumb in addition to the right index finger he had amputated after his July 4 fireworks accident.
One of the sources told ESPN, however, that the portion of the thumb that's missing is just the tip and is not a significant hindrance to his recovery.
One source said the procedure Pierre-Paul had done Sept. 4 to "close up" his middle finger was still fresh when he met with team doctors on Sept. 7.
So while the condition of the middle finger alarmed some with the Giants, Pierre-Paul said he believes it will heal to an extent that will ultimately allow him to play, according to the source.
Pierre-Paul had surgery to repair thumb fractures on July 8, when he also had the index finger amputated. But one of the sources who spoke to ESPN about the situation this week said Pierre-Paul has had many procedures since that time and that the Sept. 4 operation on the middle finger was the last one needed -- that all that was left for him is rehab focused on range of motion in his right hand.
A source who has seen the hand said the swelling has gone down significantly in the past several weeks and that the myriad surgical procedures had to be staggered because some had to heal before others could be performed.
Pierre-Paul still has the option of signing the tender, but if he does that, the Giants would have the option to put him on the non-football injury list and not pay him for the entire season.
While in New York last week, Pierre-Paul was examined by Giants team doctors, trainer Ronnie Barnes and hand specialist Robert Hotchkiss from the Hospital for Special Surgery.
As ESPN reported Saturday night, some in the organization felt the condition of the hand was worse than they had been led to believe, while others were encouraged by Pierre-Paul's mindset and his physical condition apart from the hand. The Giants save about $871,000 in cash and cap room for every game Pierre-Paul misses with the franchise tag unsigned.
A source told ESPN's Ed Werder that the Giants negotiated with Pierre-Paul and agent Eugene Parker before NFL teams cut rosters to 53 players on Sept. 5. At that cut-down, the team would lose the option of putting Pierre-Paul on the non-football injury list, then have the ability to activate him after six games. Although the Giants would not have been obligated to pay Pierre-Paul, they did offer to compensate him at a figure less than the weekly proration of his $14.8 million franchise tag, the source told Werder.
The Giants were willing to pay Pierre-Paul to report to the team, work his way into shape and begin learning the system defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has installed, a source told Werder. But the Giants were unwilling to carry Pierre-Paul on their final roster, the source told Werder, saying that the Giants "can't ask the coach to play with 52 players."