At first it was hard to tell if Justin Tuck was excited about the fruit selection in the team’s cafeteria, a new level of play on "Fruit Ninja," or the return of his good friend and locker neighbor. Turns out it was the latter.
“Kiwi is returning to the big blue. Yes sir,” Tuck Tweeted on Thursday afternoon. And yes, he was talking about free agent defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka.
A source confirmed what Tuck first “reported,” that the Giants and Kiwanuka have agreed to a contract, although the terms were not immediately known. There had been some talk that the Giants would offer Kiwanuka a one-year deal to let him re-establish his value after missing most of the 2010 season with a bulging disc in his neck, but it is unclear if that is what happened.
UPDATE: I am being told it is a two-year deal, so a litte more than what Reese hinted at with re-establishing value but not a long term contract. Of course if Kiwanuka is a monster this year they can always redo a long term deal.
Kiwanuka, like all free agents, must wait until Friday evening to sign his contract and it is contingent upon him passing a physical. Over the winter Kiwanuka was cleared to return to football and there is no reason to believe that he will have trouble passing his physical.
The return of Kiwanuka is a good move for the Giants as he was one of their most productive defensive players at the start of the 2010 season, but it also could spell the end of Osi Umenyiora’s tenure with the team. With Kiwanuka able to start at defensive end and Jason Pierre-Paul able to be a backup to both he and Tuck on the other end, there seems to be little room for Umenyiora, who many believe will be a training camp holdout (if not in body than at least in spirit as a reporting non-participant) and is looking for a trade to another team or a new contract with the Giants.
Now that they have Kiwanuka, a new deal from the Giants for Umenyiora seems to be a longshot.
HOWEVER .. there's always a "however" .. if Kiwanuka is put at linebacker, then that could clear a spot for Umenyiora to be a starting defensive end. Still lots of moving pieces here, but the one thing that won't be going anywhere is Kiwanuka. He'll be right back in New York.