1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Bucs

Bucs not counting on Jason Pierre-Paul until October at earliest

The veteran defensive end has a cervical fracture following a car accident May 2
Bucs defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90) suffered a fractured neck in a car accident May 2 in Broward County. MONICA HERNDON | Times
Published Jun. 6
Updated Jun. 6

TAMPA — Even if Jason Pierre-Paul doesn’t require surgery for a cervical fracture he suffered in a one-car accident May 2, the Bucs don’t expect him to be ready to play until sometime in October, coach Bruce Arians said.

"I would think so, just to be safe and not rush it,'' Arians told the Times. "And knowing him, he’s one of those fast healers, so. I hate to put a time limit on it, but the earlier the better. As long as he’s healthy.''

LISTEN: What we learned from Bruce Arians' first offseason in Tampa Bay

Paul lost control of his Ferrari in wet conditions on I-95, striking a concrete barrier near Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport at around 2 a.m. last month.

He was transported to a Broward hospital. The Bucs had Pierre-Paul consult with specialists and it was decided that he would be re-evaluated 11 weeks after the accident, or sometime in late July, just before training camp. If the fracture is healed on its own, Pierre-Paul can begin the slow process of preparing for the season.

If the injury requires surgery, he would be placed on the reserve non-football injury list (NFI) and out for the season. Arians said recently that he expected Pierre-Paul to miss up to six months following the accident.

Of course, Pierre-Paul has defied medical predictions before. He lost a finger and part of a second one in a fireworks accident on July 4, 2015 but still played in eight games that season.

Last year, Pierre-Paul had a team-best 12.5 sacks last season, his first with the Bucs after playing eight years for the New York Giants. It was the second-most he had in his career only to the 16.5 he recorded in 2011.

Pierre-Paul has a base salary of $13.65 this season and a $1-million roster bonus. A guarantee of $7.5-million went into effect in March, but the Bucs could be eligible to recoup that if he remains on the NFI list.

The Bucs don’t have many established pass rushers and are switching to a 3-4 under defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.

Carl Nassib, who had a career-high 6.5 sacks after being claimed off waivers from the Browns last season, will start at one outside linebacker spot. The Bucs signed Broncos free agent Shaq Barrett, used a fourth-round pick on Iowa defensive end Anthony Nelson and have third-year edge rusher Noah Spence returning.

MORE BUCS: O.J. Howard is chasing something he can catch. Greatness.

Arians believes Pierre-Paul will be the only Bucs player not cleared for training camp. Safety Justin Evans has been battling a toe injury that landed him on injured reserve last season and recently had a procedure to fix a heel problem on his other foot and is in a walking boot.

"I think we’re fine,'' Arians said. "I think Justin Evans is a big question. I think everybody on the offensive line should be ready to go. Evan (Smith) went through the walk-through (Wednesday). He did some individual (drills). (Cameron) Brate (hip) should be fine. Mike (Evans) could probably go right now, we just don’t want him to.''


  1. Bucs linebacker Shaquil Barrett (58) sacked San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) during the second quarter of the season opener at Raymond James Stadium. Barrett has all four of the team's sacks this season. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    With Jason Pierre-Paul injured, the Bucs needed a stalwart at outside linebacker. Barrett has provided that with four sacks in the team’s first two games.
  2. FILE - In this Aug. 6, 2014, file photo, Tim Tebow answers a question during a interview on the set of ESPN's new SEC Network in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File) NY161
    The former Florida Gators quarterback was passionate in his reasoning for why student-athletes shouldn’t make money. It didn’t sit well with many in the media, including other ESPN employees.
  3. Because of Derrius Guice's knee injury, Chris Thompson is likely to see his role in Washington's backfield increase. STEPHEN B. MORTON  |  Associated Press
    Matthew Stafford, Chris Thompson and Mecole Hardman are free agents that are worth a spot on your roster.
  4. Second-year Dolphins safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, a No. 1 pick, greets fans before Miami gets routed by the Ravens in the season opener. BRYNN ANDERSON  |  AP
    If a promising young talent bails on an already-rebuilding team, repercussions won’t be good.
  5. Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard (80) reacts after a pass intended for him is intercepted during the second quarter of the team's game against the 49ers in the team's season opener. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    Coach Bruce Arians has a message for O.J. Howard: play better.
  6. Bucs linebacker Shaquil Barrett (58) sacks the Panthers' Cam Newton during the second half Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. MIKE MCCARN  |  AP
    The Bucs’ victory Thursday night continues the trend when it comes to the league’s 2015 MVP: He’s not running, and he’s no longer Superman.
  7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians reacts on during the second half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. BRIAN BLANCO  |  AP
    The Panthers’ final drive Thursday night against the Bucs was extended by a questionable spot that many took note of on national TV.
  8. In five of his past six games against the Bucs, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has failed to register a passer rating greater than 70. He completed less than half of his passes Thursday night in Carolina's 20-14 loss. MIKE MCCARN  |  Associated Press
    The true difference-maker Thursday: The relentless blitzes of defensive coordinator Todd Bowles exposed quarterback Cam Newton.
  9. Bucs linebacker Kevin Minter (51) and defensive tackle Vita Vea (50) wrap up Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey in Thursday night's game. Part of the Bucs' stellar effort involved limiting McCaffrey to 37 yards rushing on 16 carries. BRIAN BLANCO  |  AP
    Tampa Bay has allowed only one touchdown in two games this season
  10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White (45) works against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP
    Bruce Arians hasn’t ruled White out for the Bucs’ next game on Sept. 22 against the Giants.