EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jason Pierre-Paul says he's fully healthy and ready to once again be the player who collected 16 sacks in the New York Giants' Super Bowl season of 2011. And he's well aware that, with free agency looming at the end of this coming season, he has plenty of incentive to do so.
"I'm not going to lie. Seeing [Justin] Tuck go, it's on my mind a little bit," Pierre-Paul said about his contract situation Thursday morning. "But honestly, I think I'm going to be here next year, because I know how I play and what kind of game I bring when I'm on the field. And I'm pretty sure everybody around here knows it, too."
Pierre-Paul started having back trouble midway through the 2012 season, had back surgery in the spring of 2013, rushed to return for Week 1 last year and struggled all year with back and shoulder injuries.
The physical issues sapped his effectiveness as a pass-rusher, and he has collected only two sacks in the Giants' past 23 games dating back to November 2012. He has more than once called 2013 "a lost season" for himself because once he started to finally feel better from the back surgery, he hurt his shoulder in the Week 10 victory over the Raiders and played only two more games after that.
Tuck, the longtime Giants defensive end who led the team with 11 sacks last year, was not re-signed in free agency and now plays for the Oakland Raiders. That puts extra pressure on Pierre-Paul to deliver a big season to fuel the Giants' pass rush.
If he does, the team likely will work to sign him to a long-term contract before he hits the free-agent market next March. If he doesn't, as he's well aware, he could follow Tuck out the door much sooner than expected.