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Meet the Kinder, Gentler Osi Umenyiora

Umenyiora got more money and his smile has returned

By Josh Alper
|  Thursday, Aug 23, 2012  |  Updated 1:12 PM EDT
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Umenyiora gets the last laugh.

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Our long civic nightmare is over.

Osi Umenyiora was unhappy with the contract he signed in 2005 and that has led to a surplus of complaining from the defensive end over the years. He called Giants general manager Jerry Reese a liar, accused the Giants of treating him like a greedy pig and staged various holdouts and slowdowns to express his displeasure.

The Giants finally caved to Umenyiora's demands last week. After restructuring his deal, Umenyiora will make $6.5 million this season instead of $3.975 million.

There were no new years added to the deal, something that Umenyiora's agent disliked enough to force a parting of the ways, but Umenyiora still liked it enough to agree to the deal. The change in circumstances has had a profound effect on the perpetually unhappy Giant.

Umenyiora now says he understands why the Giants preferred to give long-term deals to other players and claims that he'd happily sign a franchise tender if the Giants extend one to him next year.

Beyond that, the player who has been all about the money now claims that the money doesn't matter to him at all.

"I am playing for fun, honestly, because I love to play," Umenyiora said after his first practice of the offseason. "If you go out there thinking about playing for a contract, the contract will never come, that is for sure. I have made money and I am happy to be here with my teammates. I don’t know what is going to happen next year. I might have a great year and decide to stay."

Barring a major shift, that isn't going to happen. The Giants would have to pay Umenyiora in the neighborhood of $11 million with a franchise tag and there doesn't seem to be much chance that they will give him a long-term deal with Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul needing new deals in the next couple of years.

That's not a problem, though. By spending a little bit more money now, the Giants have guaranteed themselves a quiet year from Umenyiora while he is committed to doing everything he can to land a new contract as a free agent.

It's a good scenario for the Giants since they will still be heavily reliant on the pass rush provided by Umenyiora, Tuck and Pierre-Paul this season. A potential distraction has been erased long before training camp and the Giants can turn all of their attention to defending the Super Bowl.

It's no way to win the battle of the headlines with the Jets, but, then, that's never been nearly as important to the Giants as it has been to their co-tenants at the Meadowlands.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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