Giants can't be stunned by Umenyiora unhappiness

Posted June 17, 2011 @ 2:41 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

The on-again, off-again relationship between the Giants and DE Osi Umenyiora hit another snag with the news that Umenyiora said GM Jerry Reese lied to him about his contract. But our reading of the situation is that this friction is not new or revived, but rather that the two sides have been at odds for quite a while.

It's Umenyiora's contention that Reese promised him certain verbal guarantees back in 2008 — to be paid like one of the top five defensive ends in football if his play on the field was commensurate with that or to be dealt to a team that would pay him accordingly — and failed to deliver on his word. Umenyiora signed a six-year, $41 million contract back in 2005 but has openly discussed his dissatisfaction with it since, including during his tumultuous '09 season with the team in which he was benched and nearly traded or released.

But his play was back to elite standards last season with 11½ sacks and an incredible 10 forced fumbles. The Giants' pressure-based defense was made all the more dangerous because of the depth and combinations they could use up front.

Now that great depth — as well as the disintegrating relationship between Umenyiora and the team — could lead to a parting of the two sides. It's widely believed that Jason Pierre-Paul, following a rookie season in which he flashed some terrific upside as a pass rusher, is ready to step into a more prominent role. And there are signs that Mathias Kiwanuka, who is coming off a serious neck injury, might remain in the picture. The Giants were thought to be leaning toward letting him walk in free agency, but his recent participation in player-led workouts — even if the work he did easily could be called quite light — is a sign he might be back in the fold. Observers of those workouts also described Kiwanuka as perhaps having added some weight and strength to his frame, which was previously considered somewhat light for a defensive end.

So could the Giants trade Umenyiora? It's very possible they'll investigate the possibility. One team that likely will be monitoring the situation will be the Rams. Head coach Steve Spagnuolo knows all about Umenyiora from his Giants days and could use another pass rusher to add to his system there.