Osi revelation puts Giants on the clock
Now that Mt. Umenyiora has erupted, where will Jerry Reese & Co. go from here?
Osi Umenyiora had been simmering like a volcano for quite some time.
And now Mt. Umenyiora has erupted.
ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter reports that Umenyiora wants out of New York, and the defensive end explains why in a sworn affidavit to be filed as part of the players' antitrust lawsuit (the Brady v. NFL case) against the NFL in federal court next month.
Umenyiora, one of the players' plaintiffs in the case, states in the affidavit that Giants general manager Jerry Reese made a promise in an April 2008 meeting, telling the defensive end "that two years from the start of the 2008 league year, if I was currently playing at a high level, we'd either renegotiate my current contract so that it would be equal to that of the top five defensive ends playing or I would be traded to a team that would do that."
"Before leaving the meeting, I asked Mr. Reese twice if he was absolutely sure that would be the case," Umenyiora says, according to the affidavit, as an argument why the decertified NFL Players Association feels that Umenyiora has suffered irreparable harm.
"He then told me that he was an honest and church-going man and that he would not lie, which I believed to be the case. Under the penalty of perjury these statements are true and accurate."
There has been no extension or trade, and the result is a very unhappy Umenyiora and a potentially Giant dilemma for Reese, Tom Coughlin and the Giants' defense.
With the lockout persisting, the Giants had no comment about Umenyiora, who has two seasons and approximately $8 million remaining on a six-year, $41 million contract extension he signed in December 2005.
Osi Umenyiora Affidavit
"In early April 2008, approximately two weeks before the start of the New York Giants offseason conditioning program, I, Osi Umenyiora, had a meeting with the general manager of the New York Giants, Mr. Jerry Reese.
"After about an hour of discussing my current contract, as well as the contracts of other defensive ends currently playing in the National Football League, Mr. Reese told me that two years from the start of the 2008 league year, if I was currently playing at a high level, we'd either renegotiate my current contract so that it would be equal to that of the top five defensive ends playing or I would be traded to a team that would do that.
"Before leaving the meeting, I asked Mr. Reese twice if he was absolutely sure that would be the case. He then told me that he was an honest and church-going man and that he would not lie, which I believed to be the case. Under the penalty of perjury these statements are true and accurate."
Once the lockout ends and teams are allowed to make personnel moves again, the Giants will have a few pivotal decisions to make.
They can trade Umenyiora, although that would only hurt them. It would force the Giants to acclimate a new player to their system with a limited amount of time because of the lockout. Swapping Umenyiora for future draft picks doesn't help the Giants this season when they have to win now. Missing the postseason for a third straight year will not be tolerated by Giants ownership.
The Giants are in position to take advantage once the lockout ends. Unlike teams that will have little time to get new players and new coaches on the same page, the Giants can navigate training camp easier than others by bringing back as many veterans as possible, especially stars like Umenyiora. That would help them potentially get off to a quick start.
But Umenyiora appears to be done with the Giants (unless they give him a new contract). The Giants don't have to pay Umenyiora more money because he is still under contract, but they will have to find a way to re-sign Mathias Kiwanuka, who will either become an unrestricted or restricted free agent based on whatever the new collective bargaining agreement will be. Now, with so much uncertainty surrounding Umenyiora, the Giants have to find a way to bring Kiwanuka back.
The Giants do have the promising Jason Pierre-Paul waiting in the wings after taking the talented defensive end in the first round of the 2010 draft, a reason that Umenyiora thought he was going to be traded last spring.
But JPP may not be ready to become a starter in his second season, especially after the lockout has wiped out offseason football practice. Pierre-Paul could have benefited greatly by spending time with defensive coordinator Perry Fewell while honing his technique and watching film with the help of the coaching staff.
Instead, the raw Pierre-Paul has missed out on months of valuable time around the coaches and veteran players. He's still an emerging star but one who might not be ready just yet to start full time. That's why re-signing Kiwanuka will be even more critical.
Kiwanuka, though, comes with his own question marks after missing all but three games last year thanks to a herniated disk in his neck. He was cleared to resume his career in February, but how his neck holds up this season remains to be seen. That is why Reese mentioned the possibility of offering Kiwanuka a one-year deal to re-establish his worth.
Looking for more information on Big Blue? ESPNNewYork.com has you covered. Blog »
Which brings us back to Umenyiora. With Justin Tuck, Umenyiora, Kiwanuka and Pierre-Paul, the Giants' strength is at defensive end. Being strong up front is vital to Reese, who has used a first-rounder and two second-rounders on Pierre-Paul and defensive tackles Linval Joseph and Marvin Austin in the past two years.
Fewell potentially has four Ferraris at defensive end chasing quarterbacks on a top-five unit that compiled 46 sacks last season. And that's basically with two linebackers playing behind them for most of the season. Tuck and Umenyiora each had 11.5 sacks, while Umenyiora added 10 forced fumbles.
Umenyiora did this while playing with a painful hip injury that required surgery this offseason to have a piece of bone removed from his hip. He managed to re-establish himself as a dominant pass-rusher and master of the strip-sack after missing the entire 2008 season with a knee injury, then losing his starting job in 2009 to Kiwanuka.
Umenyiora was furious that season as he clashed with then-defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan and threatened to retire after the 2009 season if he was not a starter again in 2010. The defensive end, though, chose not to be a disruption last year, staying quiet when talking to the media and going out of his way to say nothing remotely controversial.
But we now know how he truly feels after he did his talking in a courtroom.
If Reese opts to make him return under his current contract, the Giants could have the kind of distraction that they really wouldn't want to deal with during a normal season, let alone one that is coming off a lockout. This training camp will be unique and all the more critical for Coughlin.
According to Schefter, Umenyiora, 29, has moved out of his New Jersey home with the intention of living full time in his Atlanta residence.
We'll have to wait to see what Reese's move will be once the lockout ends and free agency begins.
Follow him on Twitter » Ohm's chat archive »