Osi Umenyiora: Is He Worth the Giant Distraction?

Adam RosenCorrespondent IIJuly 31, 2011

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 08: Osi Umenyiora #72 of the New York Giants leaves the field after a loss to  the San Diego Chargers at Giants Stadium on November 8, 2009 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Despite having two years remaining on his contract, at $3.125 million in 2011 and $3.975 million in 2012, Osi Umenyiora deserves a new contract.

After starting all 16 games last season, while recording 11 1/2 sacks and tying Justin Tuck for the team lead, and leading the league with 10 forced fumbles, he's certainly earned it, but the Giants' front office thinks otherwise. 

In the midst of his contract standoff, on Saturday, a disgruntled Umenyiora reported to training camp ending his brief one-day holdout.  

But despite Umenyiora's importance to the defense, at this moment, the Giants aren't budging, and Reese appears to be standing pat on his stance towards a new contract for the two-time Pro Bowler.

Unsure of what Umenyiora's arrival in camp means for his future with the team for this upcoming season and beyond, at least for one day, Giant fans were able to breathe a brief sigh of relief.  

But don't let Umenyiora's presence at training camp fool you in thinking this is a step in the right direction, because according to Umenyiora's agent, his client has no plans to speak to Reese "ever again"...a major cause for concern if Giants fans want to see him in a Giants uniform for the remainder of his career. 

Although nothing has changed between Umenyiora and the Giants, still wanting a new deal or to be traded, don't consider Umenyiora a diva, or that his future with the Giants is in doubt.

Through a sworn affidavit, the Giants promised Umenyiora a big payday, and while other big-name free agents and superstars are getting major contracts, it's not right Umenyiora isn't.

In April 2010, the Giants appeared to have drafted Jason Pierre-Paul to be Umenyiora's replacement, but more than 12 months later, Umenyiora is still unhappy, but he's still a Giant. 

Playing through pain last season, needing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip, Umenyiora was the heart and soul of the Giants' defense.

Hey, it's not his fault Giants punter Matt Dodge decided to punt the ball to DeSean Jackson, after ignoring specific instructions from his head coach to kick the ball out of bounds or away from Jackson.  He is the leader of the Giants' defense, and JPP isn't ready to step into the role, just yet.

Like Ahmad Bradshaw, Umenyiora will be an integral part of the Giants defense, if they want to compete in 2011.  After already losing defensive tackle Barry Cofield, and unsure if wide receiver Steve Smith, tight end Kevin Boss, or Bradshaw will be back this season, Umenyiora must return. 


There are too many uncertainties heading into this season, and Umenyiora's contract status and future can ill-afford to be one of them.  Although he reported to camp, if Umenyiora does not have a new contract by Week 1, who knows what his motivation to play will be?

You can call him a diva or a cry baby, but whether you agree with Umenyiora's actions or not, there is no denying he's the Giants' best defensive player, and that he deserves to be paid like it. 

Throughout Umenyiora's contract squabble, I have always believed a new deal would get done, and that Umenyiora would be at camp when it began. Thus far, I've been right about one thing.  I just hope, I'm right about the other thing, too. 

So after the Giants, hopefully, re-sign Bradshaw and Smith, the next order of business is to take care of Umenyiora.

Because as Teddy KGB said in Rounders, "Pay that man his money."

And in this case, that man is Osi Umenyiora.