It’s an unwritten rule that players usually stay out of each other’s business when it comes to offseason negotiations and contracts. Comparing what one guy gets to what you get is particularly verboten. Mathias Kiwanuka and Osi Umenyiora are breaking that rule.
It wasn’t long after Kiwanuka signed his new three-year extension that Umenyiora, firing back at Jerry Reese’s claim that he’d been offered extensions in the last two years and turned them down, compared the size of his offer to the guaranteed money that Kiwanuka received. In a series of emails to media outlets, Umenyiora noted that he’d been offered half of what the Giants gave Kiwanuka.
How’d that sit with Kiwanuka?
“I looked at what he said and there was nothing that he said that was outright disrespectful,” Kiwanuka said today. “Osi, he and I, we have a relationship. If something came up that I felt was out of line I would have called him up and we would have handled it but I didn’t think there was anything that went that far.”
Of course, that didn’t prevent Kiwanuka from weighing in on Umenyiora’s dissatisfaction and absence from these voluntary workouts (whether he skips the mandatory veteran’s minicamp in June – in body or in spirit – remains to be seen).
“His situation, it is what it is,” Kiwanuka said. “He’s been under contract in a bad deal for years now and anybody who looks at the situation would say this should have been taken care of a long time ago. For whatever reason it hasn’t. So I understand his frustration. I know that it wasn’t a slight at me. He’s just trying to get his point across.”
Kiwanuka went further in pointing out the imbalance of power in NFL contracts.
“If he was signed to a deal that was twice that and performed half of what he is, he’d have been cut by now,” Kiwanuka said. “That’s just the reality of this game. But the fact that he’s signed to a lower average salary deal and is playing at a high level, 10-plus sacks every year, the fact that nothing has been done with it, it’s an obvious issue. It would be an issue for anyone out here. I understand his frustration but there’s nothing I can do about it.”
Yesterday, Justin Tuck also weighed in on the subject of Umenyiora’s contract, noting that he should honor his current deal but also pointing out that he deserves to get paid more.
Kiwanuka said all of the players in the locker room are watching the showdown between Umenyiora and the team because they all know that they could one day be in the same situation.
“Everybody sees how things are going for him and wonders what would happen if I was in the same situation,” Kiwanuka said. “As a player you empathize with him and you just hope it gets done.”