TAMPA — The Bucs could be without their top pass rusher this season.
Jason Pierre-Paul suffered a neck fracture in a single-car accident last week that could force him to miss the 2019 season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Pierre-Paul, who led the Bucs with 12.5 sacks last season, will visit neck specialists this week but at the very least will be out indefinitely. The former USF and Giants star was involved a one-car accident when he crashed his SUV around 5 a.m. on May 2 near his home in Broward County.
Pierre-Paul was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he was treated and released.
"As we stated last week following the news of Jason’s auto accident, our immediate concern was for both Jason and his passenger,'' Bucs general manager Jason Licht said. "While Jason was treated and released in South Florida the same day of the accident, we wanted to ensure that the medical team had an opportunity to perform a thorough evaluation here in Tampa and that process is ongoing.''
Apparently, Pierre-Paul’s injuries were more serious than originally thought and at the very least he will be out indefinitely.
It’s not the first time Pierre-Paul has had an off-field mishap. He lost several fingers in a fireworks accident on July 4 in 2015 but recovered and re-established himself as one of the NFL’s top pass rushers.
Pierre-Paul has not attended any of the Bucs’ off-season workouts under new coach Bruce Arians. But, obviously, he is being counted on as a big piece to the new defense under coordinator Todd Bowles.
Pierre-Paul is scheduled to earn $14.9 million in 2019 and $7.5 million of that became guaranteed on March 17. He likely would go on the non-football injury list if the fractured neck prevents him from playing this season, meaning the Bucs will not be on the hook for that salary.
How Pierre-Paul’s injury may affect the Bucs plans for defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is unknown. The Bucs have been non-committal about McCoy playing for them in 2019.