INDIANAPOLIS -- The New York Giants are meeting this week with representatives for their own free agents, but as of midday Friday they had yet to meet with the representatives for defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and had no plans to do so.
A source familiar with the discussions said the expectation on both sides is the Giants will designate Pierre-Paul as their franchise player sometime between now and the March 2 deadline for doing so. That wouldn't preclude a long-term deal, but it would serve the purpose of keeping Pierre-Paul off the open market when free agency begins March 10. The Giants want Pierre-Paul back, and with the salary cap expected to rise into the mid-$140 millions, they have plenty of room to keep him on a one-year franchise tender salary that could be as much as $15 million.
Pierre-Paul is likely to be disappointed with the franchise designation, as he's been looking forward to hitting the market and selling himself to teams as an elite pass-rusher worthy of a mega-deal like the one Robert Quinn signed with St. Louis. But while he's only 26 and coming off a 12.5-sack season, the Giants still harbor concerns about injury and inconsistency and so far have been hesitant to commit long-term, top-of-market pass-rusher money to him. Franchising him gives them another year, if they want it, to consider what it's worth to them to lock up their 2010 first-round pick for the long haul.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Thursday that "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."
The Giants have had meetings this week with the representatives for free agents Antrel Rolle, Walter Thurmond, Mike Patterson and others, though it doesn't sound as though anything is imminent with any of them.