The snaps were down on defense this season for safety Jabrill Peppers, and now he is done for the season with knee and ankle injuries. After praising everything Peppers did for the Giants, on the field and off it, coach Joe Judge on Wednesday said something not often heard at times like this.
Judge talked about Peppers’ contract status, and his possible future with the team.
“There’s some other things, from a business standpoint too, look, this guy’s in a contract year,” Judge said. “It’s something I talked to him about directly. This is a guy I value a lot in this program. I’d love to have this guy going forward, I told him that directly.”
Indeed, this is the final year on Peppers’ contract, and it is possible he has played his last down for the Giants. He needs surgery to repair a ruptured ACL and he might not be ready for the start of the 2022 season. With Logan Ryan and Xavier McKinney as the starting safeties and under contract, it is certainly plausible the Giants will move on from Peppers.
Plausible, but perhaps not imminent, if you listen to Judge.
“He’s been a great leader for us,” Judge said. “You can talk about him being local, the Giants mean something to him, it’s something that’s very important. He loves football, he loves this organization, he loves this area. These are things we talk about building as cornerstones and pillars of this program and he’s a very important part of that.”
Peppers, 26, was part of the mega-trade that sent Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns. Peppers played 88 percent of the defensive snaps in 2020, but his role on defense was diminished this season. He was the Giants’ primary punt returner, though, and he did not make it out of last week’s 25-3 victory over the Panthers.
“It’s really tough for a guy like Jabrill, who puts so much into the team, puts the team first, does everything you ask him to do to the best of his ability, brings so much juice to the team, is a productive player on the field, wears so many hats for you as a team,” Judge said. “It’s always ‘Whatever you need, coach, here I go.’ For this to end his season, that’s something you don’t want to see for any player. It’s tough seeing it for Pep, it really is.”
Judge said he wants to have Peppers, a team captain, around the Giants as much as possible, in the facility and on the sideline for road games, as long as the trainers deem it safe for him to do so.