Winning the Super Bowl seemed to have a big effect on Osi Umenyiora.
After years of taking every chance in front of a microphone to complain about something -- playing time, his salary, the relative lack of peanuts in a box of Cracker Jack -- Umenyiora gave his first post-Super Bowl interview this week and totally passed on the opportunity.
He didn't ask for more money, threaten a holdout or anything else when asked about his future with an organization he called a liar in an affidavit before last season.
"We’re just going to have to wait and see,” Umenyiora said. “I can see it going either way. I can see where they would keep me, I can see where they would trade me, because it makes sense both ways. So hopefully things will work out in my interest.
"I know the team is going to do what’s best for them," he added. "They’ve always made the right decisions for that organization. Whether that’s keeping me or trading me, I’d love to stay, but at the end of the day I understand it’s a business and hopefully things will work out."
If Umenyiora has stopped fighting with the team (despite his words, it's best to take a wait-and-see attitude on this front) and he's making just a shade under $4 million in the final year of his contract, then there's no question about what the team should do, right? Keep Osi and keep rushing the passer with ferocity come the 2012 season.
That could work, but that small salary in the final year of a contract is also a pretty good reason to trade him. Umenyiora should have a lot of value on the trade market in a league that's always looking for edge rushers and the Giants have a couple of reasons to be interested in picking up some high draft picks this offseason.
The first is that their cap situation is a mess and they need to slash salary before the start of free agency on March 13 and probably after that point to ensure that they have enough room for rookies and additional help on the offensive line. Umenyiora's salary isn't big, but it is one of the few that the Giants can get rid of while also bringing back something of value.
Beyond that, bringing back Terrell Thomas and any other of their own free agents means they need to get well below the floor. Simply restructuring a deal here and there won't get it done.
Draft picks will also enable the team to keep things churning in the years to come without taking a step backward when it comes time for some of the team's older players to mosey on into the sunset.
Jerry Reese's era has been marked by some excellent work in the draft and adding high-value picks now would keep the team in position to continue winning for years to come by creating the kind of depth that weathers any storm.
And based on the way this team finds pass rushers under every rock, why not go that route to replace the one-dimensional Umenyiora with a cheaper version?
Keeping Umenyiora may help the Giants now, but there's almost no chance they're going to re-sign him after the 2012 season. The team is going to need to take care of Jason Pierre-Paul, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks in the next couple of years while also continuing to rebuild the offensive line, finding secondary help and addressing anything else that crops up.
That doesn't leave much room for a situational defensive end on the wrong side of 30, even one who can get after the quarterback as well as Umenyiora.
Waiting to let him mosey along means the Giants aren't going to get much value in return. They'll get a compensatory draft pick, but they can definitely do better in a trade -- and they don't get any of the immediate cap help they need to make next year's team as strong as possible.
You can't really go wrong on this question since the Giants will be in good shape either way next season. The benefits of moving on outweigh the benefits of standing pat, though, and the Giants would be wise to investigate a deal that finally ends the Umenyiora drama.