Osi Umenyiora has spent the majority of his Giants career believing he was worth more than he was being paid. He’s about to find out if he was right.
“I've earned the right to be a free agent,” Umenyiora said on The Michael Kay Show on ESPN Radio in New York Monday evening. “It's been 10 years. I signed a seven-year deal and they made me play out all seven of those years. If they wanted me back, I think something would have been done before now.”
Umenyiora technically had one year remaining on the contract extension he signed with the Giants last offseason, but it will be voided and he’ll be an unrestricted free agent in March for the first time in his career. After 10 seasons with the Giants, Umenyiora finally gets a chance to see where the open market will value him. He’s 31 years old and made it through the 2012 season in good health, but with only six quarterback sacks. He said last week that he wants to be a starter, a role that might not be available to him with the Giants. This season he started just four games.
“I just feel fortunate to be able to play 10 years in New York in this city and that organization,” Umenyiora said on the radio. “It was a great run, a great ride. I think now is probably time to move on.”
Unless, of course, the Giants give him another extension before he hits free agency.
“The evaluation process will take care of itself,” general manager Jerry Reese said on Monday. “Osi has been a terrific player for us. I tell you guys this all the time, he’s one of my all-time favorite players in the National Football League. Not just Giant, all-time favorite players. I was happy to see him stay healthy this season and when he’s a healthy guy, he’s another guy that has some tread left on his tires. He’s still got a lot of football left in him.”
It probably won’t be with the Giants, though. The Giants have depth at the position with Mathias Kiwanuka and Pro Bowler Jason Pierre-Paul both signed for the next two years and Justin Tuck – another tire Reese says has tread on it – coming back for 2013. They also have other priorities such as working out cap space to keep both Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. It would seem unlikely that the Giants would spend the $10 million or so per season that Umenyiora might get elsewhere.
”There’s really not much left for me to accomplish here in New York,” Umenyiora said. “If you look at things that have been done here, what is there that is to be done that I haven’t done? We’ve won a championship twice. I think I’ve been a Pro Bowl player. And everything has pretty much gone better than I could have ever imagined here in New York. So if there is a time to leave, it would probably be now.”