Whenever the NFL Lockout officially ends, one of the New York Giants' first orders of business will be figuring out what to do with Osi Umenyiora. The defensive end's sworn affadavit in support of the players' position on the lockout makes it abundantly clear that Umenyiora wants to be paid like an elite defensive end.
The question for the Giants, of course, will be whether or not they believe the 29-year-old Umenyiora, coming off an 11.5-sack season, is worth what he thinks he is.
Bucky Brooks of NFL.com wrote Thursday that giving Umenyiora a big money deal would be a mistake, saying the 29-year-old Umenyiora is "too one-dimensional in his play to be regarded and compensated as an elite player."
Brooks also wrote:
Even though the two-time Pro Bowl selection is coming off one of the best seasons of his career, the Giants would be wise to hold off on upgrading his contract at this point. ...
The ninth-year pro has two years remaining on a six-year, $41 million contract extension that he signed in 2005. At the time, the deal contained the largest guaranteed amount ever awarded to a third-year veteran, and it aptly rewarded Umenyiora for the 22.5 sacks that he amassed to start his career. Furthermore, it paid the star a reported $21 million over the first three years of the deal.
Although Umenyiora is making modest salaries -- $3.125 million in 2011 and $3.975 million in 2012 -- over the next two years compared to others at the position, the Giants would create a nightmarish scenario with Mathias Kiwanuka and Justin Tuck also due new deals within the next few years.
Tuck and a healthy Kiwanuka are more complete players, and they will also command hefty salaries on the open market. Therefore, it doesn't make sense for the Giants to commit an exorbitant amount of money to their third-best defensive end. Also, the presence of Jason Pierre-Paul makes it unnecessary to overpay Umenyiora on a long-term deal.
Seems like here at Big Blue View we have debated just how good Umenyiora is for a long time. Brooks is right that Tuck is a more complete player. I don't know if I agree that Osi is "one-dimensional" but I will agree that his run defense is suspect at times. He was fine against the run in 2010, but atrocious against it in 2009.
As evidenced by his 10 strip-sacks a season ago, Umenyiora can be a game-changing player. The conundrum is that at times he can make one play and then not be noticed for the rest of a game, and can sometimes be taken advantage of by teams running straight at him. The LeSean McCoy criticisms of Osi via Twitter are ridiculous, but I think you would be hard pressed to argue with this statement -- Umenyiora is a better pass rusher than run defender.
The Kiwanuka situation also makes this tricky. Kiwanuka is coming off a neck injury that nearly ended his career, so his health is a question. If the new collective bargaining agreement allows players with four years of service to be unrestricted free agents, as is expected, Kiwanuka could also leave the Giants.
What would you guys do if you were Giants general manager Jerry Reese? Rip up Umenyiora's contract and give him the new mega-deal he seeks? Tell him he has a contract and you won't re-negotiate? Trade him before his unhappiness spills over into the locker room and affects the Giants on the field?
Not an easy call.