One of the many subplots that has been in a holding pattern while the lockout sorts itself out has been the relationship between the Giants and defensive end Osi Umenyiora.
Umenyiora was one of the 10 plantiffs in the antitrust lawsuit brought against the league and he filed a contentious affidavit for the case alleging broken promises from the Giants in regard to a new contract. Umenyiora, who signed a seven-year, $41.38 million contract with the team in 2005, says that G.M. Jerry Reese told him in 2008 they would renegotiate the deal if he continued to play at a high level.
There has been no renegotiation despite consistent agitating from Umenyiora over the past few years, leading to speculation that he was trying to force his way off the Giants and onto a team more willing to give him more money and/or years in a new deal. Umenyiora has denied that speculation while making it clear that he still wants consideration from the team. There were reports last week that Umenyiora could hold out of training camp to force the team’s hand so this will clearly be something the Giants need to deal with when they get back to work.
Owner John Mara knows how he wants the situation handled. Mara told Bob Glauber of Newsday that he wants Umenyiora to be a part of the team going forward and that he’s told Umenyiora as much in a conversation. There are some conditions that Umenyiora needs to satisfy, however.
“I told him that when this [lockout] is over, he’s got to sit down with Jerry man-to-man and work this thing out,” Mara said. “He’s got to do that.”
The Giants’ desire to keep Umenyiora on the team is easy to understand. He had a strong year rushing the passer in 2010 (11.5 sacks, 10 forced fumbles) and the team’s defensive philosophy is predicated on getting pressure on quarterbacks. They’ve also got Umenyiora under contract for two more years at reasonable terms, allowing them to use money to shore up other areas of need, such as re-signing running back Ahmad Bradshaw, while remaining a strong defensive club.
A redo of Umenyiora’s deal right now could make it hard to fill every need under the salary cap, which should make for an interesting open to Giants camp once the lockout is finally put to rest.