Licht grabs his pass-rusher in trade for JPP

by Gary Shelton on March 23, 2018 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Pierre-Paul makes a tackle against the Bucs./STEVEN MUNCIE

Pierre-Paul (90) makes a tackle against the Bucs./STEVEN MUNCIE

Friday, 3 a.m.

By its nature, it is a profession that demands a blend of skills.

There is the quickness of the start. There is the strength of the initial engagement. There is the twisting, turning motion of the second step. There is the raw speed of the close to the quarterback.

Pretty much, that has been the image of Jason Licht as he has tried to grab a true pass rusher.

Thursday, Licht finally had a sack. He brought down Jason Pierre-Paul. one of the premier pass-rushers of the league, in a trade with the Giants.

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The Bucs gave up a third-round draft pick for Pierre-Paul, the former USF standout, in a. bring-on-the-season move Thursday afternoon. They also swapped fourth-rounders to make the deal.

“Jason is an elite-level edge rusher who will make an immediate impact on our defense,” said Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht. “We are adding a two-time Pro Bowler who is passionate about the game and has established himself as one of the league’s premier defensive ends. Jason is an incredibly hard-working playmaker on the defensive front with a unique skill set that allows him to stay on the field in both rushing and passing situations.”

One of the biggest disappointments to the Bucs' off-season had been their inability to boost their pass rush. They were reportedly interested in former Rams' defensive end Robert Quinn and former Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett, although both were moved for less than the third-round pick the Bucs gave the Giants.

Steve Serby of the New York Jets wrote this: "He was the best damn 7 1/2 fingered defensive end you will ever see."

The fans loved him in New York. He was big, and he was boisterous, and he was resilient. He had the great smile, the great backstory, the great athletic ability.

Quinn, Bennett and Pierre-Paul all had 8.5 sacks last year. The question, of course, is how many he might have this year and in the years to come.

Pierre-Paul was involved in a fireworks accident in 2015 that cost him several fingers of his right hand. However, he has 15 1/2 sacks over the last two seasons.

He immediately becomes the Bucs' favorite to harass Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton next year. Expect him to line up beside of Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy, former Eagle Beau Allen and former Eagle Vinny Curry in a restructured line.

Bennett is 29, two years younger than Quinn (one when the season starts) and four years younger than Bennett.

Did the Bucs get the best player of the lot? You could argue that. Quinn hasn't played a full season since 2014. Bennett is the oldest of the three and can be disruptive in the locker room.

Sure, the hand accident has affected Pierre-Paul. It's hard to play defensive end without the use of it.  But who else would be better to deal with adversity? Pierre Paul was eight months old when Jean Pierre-Paul, his father, lost his sight.

"My dad never quit no matter what," Jason said at the 2012 Super Bowl. It was one of those mass interviews, where amateurs keep shouting out questions like "are you confident?" But Pierre-Paul and I were able to get a dialogue going.

"He couldn't see, but he never let that stop him. Most people, when something like that happens, they just think their life is over. But that's not true. My dad can still do things like a normal person. He still cooks, he still watches my sister and my brother's baby when my mom's not home.

"What I bring to the table to help my team is that I'm never going to quit. I'm going to keep rushing the ball until the whistle blows and it's the end of the game. That's how I'm going to keep playing."

An additional benefit is that the move toward Pierre-Paul doesn't necessarily throw away third-year pro Noah Spence. It just means the Bucs aren't as reliant on him and his brittle shoulder.

The move might signal that the Bucs figure they are out of the running for draftee Bradley Chubb. They still need a running back. They could use another corner.

Still, the Bucs are better than they were.  Are they good enough? We'll see.

Comparing the defensive ends

                                 Pierre-Paul        Quinn          Bennett

Age (season start).           29                         28                     33

Sacks (2017)                      8.5                       8.5                   8.5

Sacks ('16-'17)                  15.5                     12.5                  13.5

Pro Bowls                               2                        2                        3

Starts since '15                     36                      29                     43

Tackles (NFL rank)           119                     373                  305

Tackles (combined).         68.5                      32                   40

Career sacks                        58.5                     62.5                54

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