TAMPA — The Bucs were hoping Jason Pierre-Paul had avoided serious injury after he was released from the hospital following a one-car accident in Broward County May 2.Then they learned he had suffered a neck fracture that will require surgery and likely force him to miss the 2019 season. At the very least, he’s out indefinitely.Will the bitter pill the Bucs had to swallow Tuesday poison the season? And what are their options?Let’s start with the obvious. The Bucs will not be better without their best pass rusher. Last season, Pierre-Paul led the team with 12.5 sacks, becoming the first Tampa Bay player to reach double-digit sacks in a single season since Simeon Rice in 2005.Furthermore, they are only $1.8-million under the salary cap and still have to create more space to sign their draft class.Pierre-Paul was scheduled to earn $13.65-million in base salary this season. In fact, $7.5-million was fully guaranteed in March.Pierre-Paul will go on the Non-Football Injury (NFI) list. Depending on the language in the contract, they may not have to honor the guarantee and it’s the club’s decision whether to pay the rest of the contract. If they decide not to, it would provide more money under the salary cap.Specialists are examining Pierre-Paul and the Bucs aren’t commenting on his condition."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.''So let’s examine how Pierre-Paul’s injury has left the Bucs with some pressing decisions. It’s one thing to say that at 31, McCoy’s production no longer matches his pay. Needing salary cap room to sign their draft picks, the belief has been that McCoy will most likely be released since he doesn’t seem to have much trade value with that salary.But the Bucs already could be without their sack leader. McCoy was third on the team with six sacks and led them with 21 quarterback hits. Does Licht call McCoy and say, “Hey Gerald, how was your Cinco De Mayo?”JPP’s accident, however, probably doesn’t change their stance on McCoy. This has felt and sounded like a divorce almost from the time the Bucs hired Bruce Arians. Just because they lost an outside pass rusher, it doesn’t mean they feel differently about McCoy. Those are separate issues.The Bucs are committed to second-year defensive tackle Vita Vea and added some outside pass rushers in Broncos free agent Shaq Barrett and Iowa defensive end Anthony Nelson, their fourth-round pick. Fourth-year pro Noah Spence will be better suited as an outside linebacker in the new 3-4 defense.If McCoy was an outside pass rusher it may be different. Besides, it’s clear McCoy harbors some bitterness about the rhetoric that has flowed from One Buc Place about his lack of production and questioning his passion for the game. The first problem is the Bucs have no salary cap space. They could create some by cutting or trading McCoy. But even then, who is available?Any free agent worth his salt either found a job before the music stopped in free agency or they’re asking for too much money.Ndamukong Suh, Muhammad Wilkerson and even defensive end Ezekial Ansah are available as free agents. But they all have faults. Suh had only 4.5 sacks for the Rams last season but earned $14.5-million. He hasn’t played a full season since 2015 due to injuries.Muhammad Wilkerson was considered a top-five 3-4 defensive end and had a 5-year, $87 million deal in 2016 to prove it. He has 44.5 career sacks but wore out his welcome with the Jets. He played three games last season with the Packers before a season-ending injury. He isn’t 30 yet, so maybe he has something in the tank.But bringing in a strong personality into a young team is risky. This seems to be a better avenue. Now that the NFL draft is complete, there will be teams that want to clear a position or two for high-priced draft picks. You never know who’s available unless you ask. That’s how Licht got Pierre-Paul from the Giants last season.It worked last year for the Los Angeles Rams, who eventually made a deal with the Jaguars for Dante Fowler and he had a huge role in advancing the Rams to the Super Bowl.Of course, the problem is that you’re mortgaging part of the future for an uncertain present. The Bucs are probably more than one player away from becoming a good defense.It’s hard to know which players might be available until you ask and that’s what the Bucs are probably doing right now. Licht has to be working the phones.The timing of the accident couldn’t be worse. It happened less than a week following the NFL draft. Tampa Bay may have addressed the edge rusher position earlier if they knew this was a possibility.But that’s just Buc luck.The bottom line? The job just got tougher for Arians and his new team. A lot tougher. Contact Rick Stroud at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @NFLStroud.