The New York Giants don’t want to see Jason Pierre-Paul leave this spring via free agency, and they might have to use the franchise tag to keep him.

As pointed out by ESPN’s Jordan Raanan, New York doesn’t want to break up its high-priced defense and would prefer to retain not only Pierre-Paul but also fellow free agent, defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins.

“Word on the street is that they are genuinely trying to keep the defense intact, which means bringing back Pierre-Paul and Hankins,” Raanan wrote.

“The Giants might need to use the franchise tag on Pierre-Paul for the second time in three years to make it happen. The franchise number for a defensive end is expected to be about $17 million. That might be where this one is headed, at least as a place-holder until a long-term deal is reached.”

It’s well known that the pass rusher isn’t interested in doing another prove-it deal and wants to haul in a lucrative long-term deal with big guaranteed money. Pierre-Paul is rumored to be targeting a contract similar to the one the Giants handed to fellow pass rusher Olivier Vernon last year. That contract came in at five years and $85 million, with an unbelievable $52.5 million guaranteed.

No doubt, Pierre-Paul thinks he’s at least as valuable to the Giants as Vernon and will be pushing for a contract that reflects that.

Raanan pegs the Giants as having a 70-percent chance of retaining Pierre-Paul in 2017. He notes it would be around 40 percent if the franchise tag wasn’t in play. Because of the immense value teams place on pass rushers these days, it seems inevitable that New York will need to use the tag in order to ensure Pierre-Paul doesn’t leave in free agency.

Negotiating a long-term deal isn’t going to be easy. In this case it could be even more tricky than normal because the Giants might feel a bit hesitant to dole out a truckload of guaranteed money to a player who hasn’t been a consistent high-level performer throughout the course of his career (more on that here).

It’s going to be fascinating to see what happens next in this dance between star defensive player and the team that doesn’t want to lose him.