Around this time last year, the New York Giants expressed a sentiment rarely heard in the NFL, a league whose acronym the former coach Jerry Glanville once quipped stands for Not For Long.
Remarking on the prospects of resigning the star defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul, then-coach Tom Coughlin said, “The goal is for him to be a Giant and play as a Giant forever, and retire as a Giant. How that works out is another issue.”
In the winter of 2015, Pierre-Paul was a 26-year-old free agent coming off a season—12.5 sacks, 77 tackles, three forced fumbles—that reinforced his status as an elite pass rusher and defensive player. Rather than let him test the market, the team voided his contract in February and placed its franchise tag on him in March, ensuring that he would make $14.8 million the following season while the two parties hashed out a long-term deal.
“Like I said, it is going to be a business situation,” said Pierre-Paul at time. “It’s going to be about my family, and what I want to pursue. At the end of the day, I’m here. Like I said earlier in the season, if I am a Giant, then I will be a Giant for my whole life. I don’t know what is going to happen.”
This was the beginning of a common NFL saga that would quickly veer into uncharted territory. First, there was intrigue in June when Pierre-Paul did not show up to the Giants mandatory training camp as an expression of his displeasure with how the contract talks were going; he also refused to sign his $14.8 million tender. The two parties had until July 15 to sign an extension.