After news broke that DE Jason Pierre-Paul suffered a broken neck in his recent car accident in South Florida and could possibly miss the season, it was a serious blow to the Bucs defensive line. Him missing out on the 2019 season isn’t a forgone conclusion though, but if he has surgery to repair the damage it could force him onto the Non-Football Injury (NFI) list for the year.
The Bucs could catch a break if this does happen, and could possibly free up all of Pierre-Paul’s $7.5 million dead cap hit on his $14.9 million 2019 salary per Jenna Laine of ESPN.
Jason Pierre-Paul is to make $14.9 million this year, plus incentives. What's interesting is that $7.5 million of his base salary became fully-guaranteed on March 15. But that guarantee doesn't cover a player placed on the non-football injury list (NFI). They can get out of this.
— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) May 7, 2019
If the language in his contract does not in fact guarantee his salary, if placed on the NFI, this would clear up more than enough cap space for the Bucs to sign all of their rookies, and leave enough to set aside for a rainy day.
It has already been speculated that this could impact the future of DT Gerald McCoy, who was seen as a possible cap casualty due to his $13 million non-guaranteed 2019 salary. If they are able to save $14.9 million with Pierre-Paul’s contract, the Bucs wouldn’t need to move McCoy simply to make the cap math work. With that said, the relationship between the organization and McCoy has seemed to deteriorate in recent months and could look to move on from him still.