Osi Umenyiora's Still Angry at the Giants

Umenyiora claims Giants lied to him about his contract

By Josh Alper
|  Thursday, Jun 16, 2011  |  Updated 3:47 PM EDT
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Osi Umenyiora's Still Angry at the Giants

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Umenyiora can catch quarterbacks, but not contracts.

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Back in 2009, it seemed like we couldn't go a week without hearing Osi Umenyiora air his grievances with the Giants organization.

Things quieted down last season, however, and Umenyiora turned in a good season with 11.5 sacks and 10 forced fumbles. It seems that all was not as placid as it appeared on the surface, however, because Umenyiora is unloading on the team with both barrels once again.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, in an affadavit set to be filed in federal court next month as part of the NFL players' antitrust lawsuit against the league, Umenyiora claims that the Giants broke promises they made to him regarding his contract. He said that he had a meeting with Giants G.M. Jerry Reese in April 2008 and that Reese told him that the team would renegotiate the six-year, $41 million pact he signed in 2005 if he played at a high level for the next two years or trade him to a team that would be willing to 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."

It is now June of 2011 and Umenyiora is still a Giant without a new contract. His unhappiness has bubbled over before -- see his training camp walkout in 2009 and threat to retire before last season if he wasn't a starter -- but this is a while new ball of wax because Umenyiora is included in the lawsuit as a way of arguing that the NFL's contract structure is unfair to players. 

There's a pretty big rub here, however. The two years in question saw Umenyiora injured for all of 2008 and so ineffective in 2009 that he was benched.

His play rebounded in 2010, but that falls outside a window that saw Umenyiora pretty clearly failing to reach anyone's notion of a high level. What's more, gaudy stats aside, Umenyiora is a one-dimensional player who doesn't offer the same kind of all-around production that the league's true elite bring to the table.

The Giants could make that argument or they could simply say that no team was willing to trade anything of value for such a player. It's hard to argue with either point of view and the selection of Jason Pierre-Paul in the first round in 2010 makes it clear that there's no extension coming in New York.

This isn't an isolated opinion. Eagles running back LeSean McCoy weighed in on the complaint via Twitter on Thursday afternoon.

"Overrated n soft 3rd best d-line on his team honestly."

A bit harsh, but, as a running back, McCoy is well-suited to judge Umenyiora's shortcomings against the run. Tuck is clearly a better player and Barry Cofield, while less explosive, gives the Giants a more well-rounded portfolio on a weekly basis as well.

All of that is secondary to the fact that Umenyiora has publicly called Reese a liar about his contract and, by extension, his entire "honest and church-going" self-assessment. That kind of toxicity would usually signal the end of a player's run with a team, cleary that's Osi's play as he's sold his house in Jersey, but we're not ready to stamp Umenyiora's passport just yet.

His deal runs through the 2012 season, which means he's got zero leverage on a team that isn't going to give him away for nothing after such a productive season. At $3.5 million, the Giants can easily afford to keep Umenyiora as a pass rushing threat without sacrificing any other part of the team. 

We've got one more thing to look forward to when and if the owners and players decide to actually do something besides line lawyer's pockets this year.

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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