Osi Umenyiora Rumors: Latest on the Falcons, Titans and More

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistMarch 5, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 21:   Osi Umenyiora #72 of the New York Giants celebrates a sack against  Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins during their game at MetLife Stadium on October 21, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Osi Umenyiora is one of the top defensive ends on the free-agent market. He's spent his entire career with the New York Giants since the team drafted him in the second round of the 2003 draft, but his contract was voided after the 2012-2013 season.

Umenyiora has recorded at least 12 sacks in a season three times and is sitting on 75.5 for his career through nine years. With that said, the longtime Giants star will be 32 next season and just tied his lowest sack total since his rookie campaign with six.

That second pair of numbers may limit his number of suitors, but there are plenty of teams in the NFL that need more pass-rushers and he's one of the best available. Let's examine the early buzz about potential landing spots for Umenyiora.


Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons recently released John Abraham as a part of a salary purge to help the team's salary-cap situation. No other player on the Atlanta roster recorded more than four sacks last season, leaving a major void to fill if the Falcons want to remain a chief NFC contender.

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the Falcons have held internal discussions about the possibility of signing one of the veteran stars at defensive end, Dwight Freeney or Umenyiora.

Although Umenyiora didn't live up to his usual high standards last season, Freeney was even less productive. He tallied five sacks in 14 games, the second-lowest total of his career and made just 12 total tackles all season.

How much of that was due to the shift to linebacker and how much was due to a lack of explosiveness off the edge is the key point. Since Umenyiora was the better all-around performer, he would be the safer bet for Atlanta if it goes the free-agent route.


Tennessee Titans

Tennessee relied on a pass-rushing committee featuring Derrick Morgan, Kamerion Wimbley and Akeem Ayers. While those players all recorded at least six sacks, the Titans didn't have a dominant edge rusher, which is what Umenyiora can be when he is in peak form.

That's a fact not lost on the team's front office, as sources have told Terry McCormick of TitanInsider that Tennessee could make a run at the star defensive end once free agency begins. The Titans missed out on Mario Williams, whom they were interested in, last year.

Although Umenyiora isn't on Williams' level at this point in his career, he also shouldn't cost nearly as much as the Buffalo Bills shelled out for last year's prized free agent ($96 million). Umenyiora could be a bargain if it turns out last season was an aberration and not the start of a downfall.

The Titans defense ranked dead last in points allowed last season at over 29 per game. Adding Umenyiora wouldn't be enough to make up for all the other issues the unit has, but it would definitely be a step in the right direction.


New York Giants

The normally vaunted Giants pass rush was one of the league's biggest disappointments last season. It recorded just 33 sacks, a major drop off from the previous year (48) and was a major factor in New York failing to make the postseason.

Umenyiora previously stated he would like to finish his career with the Giants, according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. McCormick also said returning to the only team Umenyiora's known is one of the defensive end's options.

In reality, that seems like a long shot at best. Umenyiora's lack of production as a part of New York's defensive line rotation, the team's tight salary cap situation and the need to upgrade in other areas doesn't bode well for his chances of returning.

Veterans must avoid burning bridges. They never know what will happen as a free agent, and they need to keep as many avenues open as possible. That's what it appears Umenyiora is doing here. As it stands now, it would be a surprise to see him back with the Giants.