NEW YORK (WFAN) – The Big Blue troops are starting to line up behind unhappy defensive end Osi Umenyiora.
“He’s been under contract in a bad deal for years now,” Mathias Kiwanuka said of his teammate Wednesday. “Anybody who looks at the situation would say, ‘Well, this should’ve been taken care of a long time ago.’ For whatever reason, it hasn’t. So I understand his frustration.”
Kiwanuka wasn’t the first Giants player to lobby for Umenyiora, who is slated to earn $3.975 million in the final season of his seven-year contract.
Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul called for the team to “give him what he wants” just days after New York’s Super Bowl win, and Justin Tuck threw his support behind Osi in a carefully-worded response to CBS Sports’ Jim Rome on Tuesday.
“It’s hard. He signed a contract and I believe in abiding by that contract,” Tuck said on the “ROME” show. “But also I think he’s outplayed that contract. And with today’s market with how some of these defensive ends are getting paid lots of money, I think he deserves to get paid.”
The comments struck a chord with the 30-year-old.
“What I’ve heard from Kiwi, and (Justin) Tuck and JPP, I’ll never forget as long as I live,” Umenyiora said in an email to the Bergen Record. “That’s exactly why we are champions. Because we have each other’s back. These days you hardly see that kind of loyalty from anybody. I appreciate it, and honestly it makes things that much harder for me. Because those are the people I need to be around.”
Umenyiora has been outspoken this offseason about his contract status, and so far has been a no-show for Giants OTAs. He could hold out of training camp in Albany if the impasse can’t be resolved.
He recorded 12.5 sacks last season, including the playoffs, after staging a short training camp holdout and then missing the first three games of the regular season due to arthroscopic knee surgery.
“If he was signed to a deal that was twice that and he performed half of what he is, he’d have been cut by now,” Kiwanuka said. “That’s just the reality of this game.”
The Giants extended Kiwanuka in April for three years at $21.75 million with $10.95 million guaranteed. Umenyiora alluded to wanting around $15 million guaranteed over four years in an interview last month with WFAN’s Boomer & Carton.
“The fact he signed a lower, average-salary deal and he’s playing at a high level — 10-plus sacks every year — the fact that nothing has been done with it, it’s an obvious issue,” said Kiwanuka. “It would be an issue for any one of us out here.”
How do you see the Osi saga playing out? Be heard in the comments below…