Jason Pierre-Paul's track record speaks for itself. The former All-Pro has logged 79.5 sacks in 137 games and has a Super Bowl ring. This ten-year vet knows how to get after quarterbacks and has recovered from two devastating off-field injuries without hesitation. Like any other potential free-agent signing questions of whether or not the Bears can afford Pierre-Paul, his fit on the defense, and the likelihood of him leaving his former team all come into play. This article addresses all of those issues.
Pierre-Paul was in a car accident last offseason, ultimately forcing him to restructure his contract with the Buccaneers. His cap hit was $7.5 million in 2019, but a large portion of that was due to incentives that he met. If he didn't get in the accident, he would have been slotted to make $13.65 million. The restructuring also cut his contract a year short, which makes him a UFA this offseason. Leonard Floyd is expected to make $13.22 million in 2020 and doesn't carry a cap hit if released before the start of the new league year. The fact that Pierre-Paul recovered from a second uncommon off-field injury and produced at a high level when he came back leads me to believe that his market value will be on par with his 2018 contract. If the Bears were to release Floyd and sign Pierre-Paul, it would essentially be a wash financially.
When it comes to fit, there isn't much Pierre-Paul hasn't done. While he was with the Giants, their base defense was a 4-3 and he was used as a defensive end, but Perry Fewell (Giants' DC) was also known to run multiple and complex fronts to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Todd Bowles, Pierre-Paul's DC in Tampa Bay, traditionally runs a 3-4. In Tampa, Pierre-Paul was used in a way that would be more transitive to what the Chicago Bears run under Chuck Pagano. Admittedly, most of Pierre-Paul's time in the NFL wouldn't indicate he is a perfect fit for the defense, but Kahlil Mack was also used in a 4-3 defense in Oakland. At the end of the day, All-Pro talents find a way to get to the quarterback regardless of scheme. Jason Pierre-Paul registered 21 sacks in 26 games as a Buccaneer.
Now comes the biggest issue. Will Tampa Bay let him walk? Most would assume that the Buccaneers wouldn't let Pierre-Paul hit free agency. He has also gone on record saying he wants to get a deal done with Tampa and would like to start his new life there. Additionally, the Buccaneers have nearly $85 million in cap space heading into free agency, which seemingly puts them in prime position to re-sign Pierre-Paul, but that's not the case. Pierre-Paul looks to be the fourth priority UFA for the Buccaneers this offseason. Standing in front of him are Shaq Barrett, Jameis Winston or a different QB, and Ndamukong Suh. The Buccaneers could afford all four players, but they would be spending the lion's share of their cap on them. It's also possible they would like to extend Chris Godwin after his breakout season this past year, which would make things even tighter. We don't know exactly how the Buccs value Pierre-Paul and whether or not he will stay or go. Assuming he makes it to free agency, he won't end up back in Tampa Bay.
Jason Pierre-Paul would add production and a veteran presence to the Chicago Bears' defensive front. The thought of signing him should make fans salivate. It would take a few dominoes to fall in the right direction to get Pierre-Paul to Chicago, but it's free agency. Crazier things have happened. Hell, Khalil Mack was traded for draft picks as he was entering the prime of his career.