2019 started with much optimism and hopes for a turnaround from the doldrums and apathy of two consecutive 5-11 season for the Buccaneers who haven’t made the playoffs since 2007.
Getting back to the playoffs this season may have just become an even more difficult task with the news that the Bucs could be without their top defensive veteran pass rusher. ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting on Tuesday that star defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul could miss the 2019 season with a neck fracture suffered in a car accident lass week.
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
Pierre-Paul led the Bucs with 12.5 sacks in 2018 and was expected to be the anchor again in Todd Bowles new 3-4 defensive scheme.
According to a report from ESPN, “Pierre-Paul will likely need surgery, a source told Schefter. He will be visiting with neck specialists at some point this week to get their opinions, with the hope that a portion of this season can be saved.”
The Buccaneers added defensive end Anthony Nelson in last month’s NFL Draft, but passed on Kentucky DE/OLB Josh Allen in favor of middle linebacker Devin White. Tampa Bay did sign former Broncos pass rusher Shaq Barrett in free agency, and still have Carl Nassib and Noah Spence who could fill in for Pierre-Paul if he misses time this season.
Details from the single car accident that injured Pierre-Paul have been murky, but Bucs general manager Jason Licht indicated that Pierre-Paul Wass not cited by police.
“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 last week. “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.”
The Buccaneers declined comment when reached citing HIPAA rules.