Report: Strahan, Giants discussing return; Kiwanuka moved to DE
Ex-New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan and his former team have begun talks about a possible return in the wake of Osi Umenyiora's season-ending knee injury, several media outlets reported Monday, citing unnamed sources.
A team official called and talked to Strahan, 36, who retired in the offseason after helping lead the Giants to a Super Bowl championship, a source close to the seven-time Pro Bowler told the New York Daily News.
"They want to see if there is any interest there," agent Tony Agnone told The Associated Press. "I have to talk to Michael."
Strahan is on vacation in Greece. Agnone said he has not talked to him about the Giants' inquiry.
Agnone described the Giants' call as a courtesy -- for now -- and noted the two sides did no negotiating.
"Part of the talk was about Osi," said Agnone, who also represents Umenyiora.
The paper had previously reported Strahan would come back with the Giants if offered an $8 million contract for this season, according to a source close to Strahan.
The Daily News later reported several of Strahan's friends said Monday that his interest in talking about a possible contract is genuine, but that he may seek as much as $12 million for this season.
"But if the Giants really want him, they have a shot," a source said. "It's not out of the question."
"If the Giants make a sincere overture, it's a good chance that Strahan would consider coming back," one of the sources said, according to the Daily News. "There are other things he has to take into consideration: the money and his contract with Fox."
Strahan currently holds a position at Fox Sports as an NFL studio analyst.Fox Sports spokesman Dan Bell told 1050 ESPN Radio's Andrew Marchand that network executives talked with Strahan Monday about returning to the Giants. ''If this is something you want to do, we support you 100 percent and your job will be waiting for you,'' Bell said the executives told Strahan.
Co-owner Steve Tisch told the New York Post the Giants have warmed to Strahan returning.
On Monday, coach Tom Coughlin addressed the early Strahan reports and the Giants' void at defensive end.
"There hasn't been any discussion that I have been involved in there," Coughlin said. "We are going to explore every option that is available. And the last time that I talked with Michael he had accepted his new challenge and was very happy about that. And I have not spoken with him at all since the other night's game."
Coughlin said the Giants would move strongside linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka back to defensive end.
Kiwanuka was shifted to linebacker last year so the team could put its best 11 players on the field.
"The move was always to get the best, most quality people on the field," Coughlin said. "And Mathias accepted every job that we have offered and every task we have presented him with. I talked with him yesterday and he was more than ready to do whatever we wanted him to do that was in the best interest of the team."
Strahan turned down a $6 million contract offer in the offseason. He has since signed to work on Fox Sports NFL pregame shows on Sunday.
"There is no clock running," Coughlin said. "Obviously, whatever we can do that is in the best interest of our team, we will do it. I don't know that there is any sense of real -- we have people here that can play the positions. Obviously when you take Mathias and put him down, that gives more opportunity at the linebacker spot."
A Giant Hole?
Michael Strahan's retirement has proved part and parcel of the Giants' struggle this offseason to maintain a Super Bowl-caliber defense. Defensive end Osi Umenyiora was the latest loss.
|DE Michael Strahan||Retired|
|LB Kawika Mitchell||Signed with Bills|
|LB Reggie Torbor||Signed with Dolphins|
|S Gibril Wilson||Signed with Raiders|
|DE Osi Umenyiora||Out for season|
"I haven't heard from anybody else, so to say if I would or wouldn't is premature," Strahan said. "So I'm enjoying my retired life right now."
Strahan retired in June, ending a 15-year career highlighted by the Giants' stunning Super Bowl victory over the unbeaten New England Patriots.
Coughlin recently talked with Strahan about his TV career.
"The only thing I talked with Michael about was his new challenge, moving forward in his new assignment and he was very excited about that," Coughlin said, according to The Associated Press.
Strahan missed all of training camp last season while mulling retirement. He reported to the team a little more than a week before the season opener and played well.
However, he trained while thinking about retirement last year and was in good shape.
The Giants open the season on Sept. 4 against the Washington Redskins.
Jets quarterback Brett Favre, recently unretired himself, said the Giants should do whatever possible to get Strahan back.
"The guy still looks great, hell of a player," Favre said at the Jets' facility in Hempstead, N.Y. "I would have done whatever to try to get him back initially, but now, how could you not want him back?
"Wouldn't that be something, he comes back and we start a trend?"
Teammates tended to doubt that Strahan would return.
"As I know it, he is probably on a beach somewhere sipping on some pina coladas, so I doubt football is the first thing on his mind today," said defensive end Justin Tuck, who replaced Strahan at left end.
Defensive tackle Barry Cofield said Strahan gave no indication that he wanted to play again when he visited the Giants at training camp in Albany, N.Y., less than two weeks ago.
"He has not been bouncing back and forth like Favre," Cofield said. "He has been pretty happy. We saw him up here and he said he missed it but he was content. He has decided to go on to the next phase of his life so I don't look too strongly into that [him playing again]."
Danny Clark, a nine-year veteran who was signed as a free agent in the offseason, will move from weakside linebacker to the strong side to replace Kiwanuka. Gerris Wilkinson will start at weakside linebacker.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.