Palladino: Osi Umenyiora Saga Getting Old
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‘From the Pressbox’
By Ernie Palladino
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Well, at least Osi Umenyiora hasn’t put his hand through a fire extinguisher window.
But you get the idea he’d like to put Jerry Reese’s head through one.
Hey, it’s the offseason, as the Giants GM likes to say when it comes to his defensive end’s yearly whine festival over a contract extension that just isn’t going to happen.
This history is long. Just a few years into a front-loaded, seven-year, $41 million extension the pass-rusher and turnover-maker signed in 2005, he began campaigning for a new one that would net him about $10 million per year.
A Radio Row tour at the 2010 Super Bowl in which he claimed he’d quit football if he didn’t get either an extension or a trade was followed in 2011 by his citation of Reese on a lawsuit claiming the general manager lied to him about negotiating an extension or trading him.
That turned the matter personal. Since then, Umenyiora staged a one-day sit-out the opening day of 2011 training camp. And just this week, he called out Reese for making him look like “a greedy pig” for turning down two extensions Reese said he offered.
It’s all getting so old, and so stupidly personal. Umenyiora is heading into the final year of his contract, which means he’ll be $3.975 million richer when he’s eligible to hit the free agent market. The worst thing that’s going to happen to him is that Reese slaps the franchise tag on him, tying him to the Giants for one more year at the average of the top five salaries among all defensive ends.
That alone would provide a nice boost.
If Umenyiora has the kind of year he had the past two — 11 ½ sacks and a league record 10 forced fumbles in 2010 and nine sacks and two forced fumbles over nine games in an ankle injury shortened 2011 — he’ll be in for a nice payday either way as a free agent.
One thing is for sure, though. The Giants aren’t going to let him go anywhere. All that pre-draft talk about packaging him to move up in the first round proved unfounded, as the Giants stayed right where they were at No. 32 to pick RB David Wilson.
And Reese said in a radio interview that he regarded Umenyiora’s sabre-rattling to nothing but “offseason chatter,” a term we’ve all heard before from the GM.
It’s true. As much as Umenyiora talks and threatens, and even holds out as he plans to for the offseason conditioning program, he does come to play. He’s still not the greatest run-stopper in the world. But put him in there in a four-DE front with Jason Pierre-Paul at the strong side end, and Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka inside, and you have a fearsome, destructive pass rush.
When healthy, he’s fast. And the slap move that netted him the league record forced fumbles in 2010 sticks in opposing quarterbacks’ minds. That’s always a good thing for a defense.
So let’s say it now. Osi isn’t going anywhere this year. Hold out, hate Reese, seethe, it doesn’t matter. It has all gotten old and it has gotten Umenyiora nowhere.
His best play is to shut up and play. Produce like he has, and he’ll get paid somewhere, from somebody.
Most probably the Giants.