Justin Tuck sounds like a guy who is ready to say goodbye to one friend and hello to another.
While saying that he does not believe Osi Umenyiora will report to training camp on Friday as things stand right now between him and Giants management, Tuck also suggested that the Giants are closer than most people think to landing Plaxico Burress.
First, Osi, who is expected to hold out despite having two years remaining on his contract. He said in an affidavit earlier this spring that Jerry Reese promised to either give him a new deal or trade to a team that would after two solid years and he believes he has fulfilled his end of that bargain. As such, there are those who fully expect Umenyiora to be playing for another team by the time the regular season starts.
“I’ve talked to Osi and will continue to talk to Osi,” Tuck said. “You try your best never to get in anybody’s contract dispute, but again, he’s an invaluable member of this defense and you really want to keep your core guys together. He came back last year off an injury and had a great year and he’s still got a lot of great years in him. Hopefully we can get him to kind of calm down and be the Giant that I know he can be. But again, he’s going to have to do what’s best for him. I don’t know what the speculation is, I’m not getting into that, but just hoping that he finds his way to be a Giant this year and if he doesn’t I’ll wish him luck in anything that he does but I’ll be pushing to get him back in blue.”
Tuck was asked if he expects Umenyiora to be on the field this weekend as camp starts.
“You’ll have to ask Jerry Reese that, I don’t know,” he said. “That all depends on the conversations that he has with upper management.” And if those conversations do not take place? “No, I don’t (think he’ll be here).”
Then there’s Plaxico, a player clearly on Tuck’s mind because he rolled into the Giants’ parking lot this morning, rolled down his windows, and grinned at reporters and photographers telling them “Plaxico ain’t here today guys!”
“We’re working on it,” Tuck said of forging the unlikely reunion.
“I don’t think it’s that much of a reach,” he said. “It’s all up to him. I mean, being his teammate and a friend, I just honestly want what’s best for him. I know this team would love to have him back. We’ve had some great years together and there’s a lot of chemistry there. This is my opinion, but I don’t see there being any better place than here in New York for him. But he has to do what’s best for him and his family and that’s what I’ll advice him to do.
Tuck said he thinks Burress and Tom Coughlin can find a way to coexist.
“I think it’s going to be a give-and-take between both of them,” he said. “Anytime you have a dispute between two people, then those two people need to sit down and talk it out like men and I think that’s what they have on schedule so we’ll see what happens. I can’t speak for Coughlin or Plax, but it’s well documented that they have bumped heads in the past and hopefully a little time apart can rekindle the love that they share for each other.
“Hopefully,” he said, “it will be another match made in heaven.”