Let’s take a break from the subject of marriage equality for a moment to talk about what could be a pending divorce between the Giants and Osi Umenyiora.
The defensive end gave a sworn affidavit that the Giants and general manager Jerry Reese did not keep their word to him about his contract negotiations. The statement will be included in the antitrust lawsuit the players are filing against the NFL in Minnesota. Umenyiora is a named plaintiff in the case.
Here’s the statement, as reported by ESPN:
- “In early April 2008, approximately two weeks before the start of the New York Giants offseason conditioning program, I, Osi Umenyiora, had a meeting with the general manager of the New York Giants, Mr. Jerry Reese.
- "After about an hour of discussing my current contract, as well as the contracts of other defensive ends currently playing in the National Football League, Mr. Reese told me that two years from the start of the 2008 league year, if I was currently playing at a high level, we'd either renegotiate my current contract so that it would be equal to that of the top five defensive ends playing or I would be traded to a team that would 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."
ESPN also points out that Umenyiora may already be severing ties with the organization as he has moved out of his New Jersey home and into a house in Atlanta where he usually spends time in the offseason.
The Giants have no comment on the statement.
A few things to look at here.
First, did Reese lie? According to Umenyiora’s statement, Reese told him that in two years “if I were currently playing at a high level” he would be able to renegotiate. Well, those two years went like this: In 2008 Umenyiora missed the entire season after a knee injury in a preseason game and in 2009, while he had 7 sacks, he was also benched for the last chunk of the season. That’s probably not the definition of “playing at a high level” the Giants had in mind.
Second: Umenyiora signed a contract that he’s been trying to wiggle out of from the outset. He still has two years remaining on it, in fact.
Third: Umenyiora’s value in a trade may never be higher than it is right now. He’s 29, coming off an impressive season in which he recorded 11.5 sacks and an NFL-record 10 forced fumbles. He appears to be returning to form health-wise from the knee injury of a few years ago as well as the hip injury that has periodically prevented him from practicing (he had offseason surgery to repair that this winter). The Giants have alternatives at defensive end including Jason Pierre-Paul, last year’s first-round draft pick, and Mathias Kiwanuka who may or may not be a free agent depending on how the new CBA is structured. They’ll also have a chance to bring in another veteran if they choose to do so via free agency, whenever that begins.
In other words, perhaps the time has come for the Giants and Umenyiora to cut ties. The player is apparently thinking that way.
Maybe he'll even be traded to Miami for a reunion with Bill Sheridan?