FILE – In this April 26, 2016, file photo, New York Giants’ Jason Pierre-Paul smiles as he talks to reporters after an NFL football minicamp practice in East Rutherford, N.J. Star defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has signed a four-year contract with the New York Giants. The team gave Pierre-Paul the franchise tag last month, and reached the long-term deal Friday, March 17, 2017.(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)(Photo: The Associated Press)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Giants are convinced star defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is fully healed from a fireworks accident that severely damaged his right hand.
They believe that so much that they have given JPP a four-year contract worth about $68 million.
“This is where I wanted to be,” Pierre-Paul told the Giants website Friday. “I couldn’t imagine me being anywhere else.”
Two summers ago, on July 4, Pierre-Paul’s right hand was severely damaged in a fireworks accident in Florida. He missed the first half of that season, but returned for the final eight games. He started all 12 games he played last year and has a strong finish as the Giants made the playoffs.
The 28-year-old Pierre-Paul said: “I’m back for four years and I’m ready to get after it.”
“It means a lot to me, because I started here, and obviously I want to finish here,” the two-time Pro Bowler said. “I’ve seen a lot of guys come and go, especially in my (2010 draft) class. I’m the only one left in my class here. It means a lot. We won a Super Bowl here, and I’m looking forward to putting a fifth trophy in the case.”
The team gave Pierre-Paul the franchise tag last month for the second time in three years.
“We’re happy to get a long-term deal with Jason,” general manager Jerry Reese said. “Not only is he one of our best players, he is one of our leaders.”
The Giants rebuilt their defense last year mostly through free agency, adding among others tackle Damon Harrison, who had an All-Pro season, and end Olivier Vernon. Along with Pierre-Paul, they helped turn around the unit and the Giants went 11-5, making the playoffs for the first time since winning the 2011 NFL title.
Pierre-Paul missed the last four regular-season games and the playoff loss to Green Bay with a core muscle injury that required surgery. He finished the season with seven sacks, 53 tackles (35 solo), eight passes defensed, three forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery that he returned for a touchdown.
“We’re going to create history,” JPP said. “We made it to the playoffs, but unfortunately I wasn’t there to play. But I’m looking to get back to the playoffs this year with that great defensive line that we have, and the great defense that coach Spags (coordinator Steve Spagnuolo) is going to put out there.”
New York also re-signed backup quarterback Josh Johnson and guard John Jerry.
Mostly used on the right side, Jerry is entering his eighth pro season and fourth with the Giants. He played his first four seasons in Miami.
In 2016, Jerry started all 16 regular-season games and the wild-card game.
Johnson did not get into a game last season and was active for only four behind the durable Manning, who has started 211 consecutive games, including playoffs, since 2004. A longtime backup, Johnson is entering his 10th NFL season and has played in 29 games with five starts for Tampa Bay and Cleveland from 2009-11. He last threw a regular-season pass in 2011.
Former Jets quarterback Geno Smith agreed to terms with the Giants as well, a person with direct knowledge of the move told The Associated Press. The person spoke anonymously because the deal has not been finalized pending Smith passing a physical.
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