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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be without their top pass rusher this season.
Jason Pierre-Paul suffered a neck fracture in a single-car accident last week that could force him to miss the 2019 season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Pierre-Paul, who led the Bucs with 12.5 sacks last season, will visit neck specialists this week but at the very least will be out indefinitely. The former University of South Florida and New York Giants star was involved a one-car accident when he crashed his SUV around 5 a.m. on May 2 near his home in Broward County.
Pierre-Paul was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he was treated and released.
At the time, Bucs general manager Jason Licht said Pierre-Paul was not accused of any wrongdoing at the time of the accident, which included a passenger.
“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,” Licht said in a statement Thursday. “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.”
Apparently, Pierre-Paul’s injuries were more serious than originally thought and at the very least he will be out indefinitely.
It’s not the first time Pierre-Paul has had an off-field mishap. He lost several fingers in a fireworks accident on July 4 in 2015 but recovered and re-established himself as one of the NFL’s top pass rushers.
Pierre-Paul has not attended any of the Bucs’ offseason workouts under new coach Bruce Arians. But, obviously, he is being counted on as a big piece to the new defense under coordinator Todd Bowles.
Pierre-Paul is scheduled to earn $14.9 million in 2019 and $7.5 million of that became guaranteed on March 17. He likely would go on the non-football injury list if the fractured neck prevents him from playing this season, meaning the Bucs will not be on the hook for that salary.
How Pierre-Paul’s injury may affect the Bucs plans for defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is unknown. The Bucs have been non-committal about McCoy playing for them in 2019.