Some crushing news broke Tuesday morning from ESPN’s Adam Schefter:
Tampa DE Jason Pierre Paul suffered a potential season-ending fractured neck injury in a single-car accident last week in south Florida, league sources tell ESPN. Pierre-Paul will visit neck specialists this week to get their opinions to see if there’s hope to save this season.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 7, 2019
It was reported last week that Jason Pierre-Paul had been involved in a single-car accident, but there wasn’t a whole lot of info otherwise. He wasn’t cited and was released from the hospital shortly after, but this news would obviously indicate that there is more to worry about than originally thought. As Schefter noted, Pierre-Paul is going to see neck specialists this week, but it appears that is more of a last hope at saving the 2019 season for the veteran defensive end:
While Buccaneers' DE Jason Pierre-Paul will be visiting this week with neck specialists, the belief is that he likley will need surgery for his fractured neck, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 7, 2019
This is obviously horrible news for Pierre-Paul himself, as well as the Buccaneers. From an off-field standpoint, this is a serious injury to a key leader of their locker room and a brother of theirs. With it being a fractured neck, his career could be at risk in addition to just the 2019 season. Neck injuries are obviously not to be messed around with.
As far as football goes, Tampa Bay will now likely be without its top pass-rusher for the entire season. That, combined with the lack of attention to the defensive line in the NFL Draft, leaves the defense in an extremely tough spot heading into what everyone hoped would be a turnaround year under new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.
Pierre-Paul came to the Bucs in a trade last spring and put together a huge season for what was otherwise a very bad defense. He totaled 12.5 sacks on the year, becoming the first Buc to record double-digit sacks since Simeon Rice finished with 14 in 2005. He definitely figured heavily into Tampa Bay’s plans in 2019, as the front office only addressed the defensive line in the fourth round with the selection of Iowa defensive end Anthony Nelson.
This is the second straight offseason in which the Buccaneer defense has seen one of its players suffer a significant injury in a car accident. Last season, it was linebacker Kendell Beckwith, who still hasn’t made it back amid some concerns that his ankle injury from the incident is career-ending.
Bucs Nation’s prayers/thoughts/best wishes go out to Jason Pierre-Paul, his family and the Buccaneers organization in this tough time. We will pass along more information as it becomes available.