Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul's injuries sustained in a last week may be worse than previously assumed. According to a report from ESPN.com's Adam Schefter, Pierre-Paul may need neck surgery that could end his 2019 season before it begins.
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
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
Schefter's ESPN colleague Jenna Laine noted that she had been told last week that Pierre-Paul was "OK," which does not appear to be the case.
In the immediate wake of the crash, Bucs general manager Jason Licht released the following statement:
"We have been informed that Jason was involved in a one-car accident early this morning in South Florida in which he was not cited. We know that he was evaluated at a local hospital and has since been released. Our immediate concern is for the safety and well-being of Jason and his passenger. We have been in contact with Jason and will be getting him further evaluated by our medical staff in the near future."
Licht released another statement on Tuesday afternoon:
"As we stated last week following the news of Jason's auto accident, our immediate concern was for both Jason and his passenger. While Jason was treated and released in south Florida the same day of the accident, we wanted to ensure that our medical team had an opportunity to perform a thorough evaluation here in Tampa, and that process is currently ongoing."
Obviously, if the neck injury is this serious, there are more important things than whether or not Pierre-Paul can play this season. The first concern should be for his near and long-term health and safety. Hopefully any necessary operation is a success and he can live a long and healthy life.
As for the Bucs, they will surely miss Pierre-Paul on the field if he cannot play. He led the team with 12.5 sacks last season and figured to be their best pass rusher in 2019 as well. Without him, they will have to count on players like Noah Spence and Carl Nassib, as well as some of their more recent draft picks, to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks. It is unknown how Pierre-Paul's status will affect the future of interior lineman Gerald McCoy, who was been speculated about as a possible cap casualty throughout the offseason.
SportsLine's Stephen Oh simulated the impact of Pierre-Paul's season-long absence, which dropped Tampa's chance of making the playoffs by 2.1 percentage points and shifted their over/under 6.5 wins bet to a solid Under.