Professional sports may be the ultimate “what have you done for me lately” industry. Top stars can be traded at any given moment, to free up salary cap space or to bring in a young gun that coaches think is a promising prospect. For players, what you’re traded for is a solid measure of your assumed importance to the game and to fans.
The Giants just traded Jason Pierre-Paul to the Tampa Bay Bucs for a couple of draft picks and some cash. So, if you’re the two-time all pro, you just might land in Florida with a chip on your shoulder. If JPP does come into training camp feeling like he has something to prove, he will certainly have an opportunity to reinvent his brand. Tampa has been hurting along the defensive line ever since Hall of Famer Warren Sapp retired. Now, though, Tampa is retooling. The team just signed two Super Bowl winners from the Philadelphia Eagles, defensive end Vinny Curry and tackle Beau Allen, to fill out its line. Now, it looks like they could be playing with Pierre-Paul and the Bucs best player, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, on what appears to be, at least on paper, a much-improved d-line.
The Bucs are certainly happy with their acquisition. General Manager Jason Licht told the press: “Jason is an elite-level edge rusher who will make an immediate impact on our defense… We are adding a two-time Pro Bowler who is passionate about the game and has established himself as one of the league’s premier defensive ends…”
Another aspect of a comeback is being able to show up well against top competition. Well, JPP is now in a division with three of the top quarterbacks in the NFL: Drew Brees, Cam Newton and Matt Ryan. Top competition to prove himself against week after week. Meanwhile, the New York Giants have some retooling to do of their own. The team was a massive disappointment last season, even considering the plague of injuries. And disappointment is not something New York fans will abide for very long.
The Giants are, no two ways about it, kind of a mess, and that’s not something NY fans have come to expect. After a 3-13 season, the team has to make some major changes to get fans excited again. And they don’t have long to do it. Giants fans will expect at least a winning season this year, if not a return to the playoffs. Another sub-500 finish might have some fans threatening to hang their blue gear up in the closet until the team makes some changes at the top.