New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora gave a deposition as part of the Brady et al v. National Football League et al case, claiming that general manager Jerry Reese promised in 2008 to either trade him or pay him among the top five defensive ends in the league, according to sources who have seen the affidavit.
The statements were made under oath in testimony that was conducted April 14, according to one source, and are to be filed with the court July 18, along with sworn statements from other players.
In the statement, which was given under the penalty of perjury, Umenyiora details conversations with Reese, saying he was promised that if he "was playing at a high level" over the following two seasons, he would be compensated among the best at his position or dealt to a team that would compensate him. Umenyiora's agent, Tony Agnone, also was deposed.
Umenyiora, 29, is one of the plaintiffs in the Brady case and gave the statements to NFL Players Association lawyers to show the kind of "irreparable" harm being done to players by the lockout.
The Giants had no comment on the matter. However, a league source pointed out that there conceivably could have been some miscommunication, that Reese might have been talking about possibly exploring a trade or new contract down the road without directly promising to do so.
It also was noted that in the two years during which Umenyiora was to perform at a high level, he didn't do so -- he spent 2008 on injured reserve with a knee injury and lost his starting spot, and he became a situational player in 2009 while clashing with the coaching staff. His trade value was low, based on injury concerns and the fact he was coming off just a seven-sack season in 2009, at the time Reese was to have had to make good on his "promise," as per the statements from the affidavit.
Umenyiora was excellent last season, on and off the field. He opted not to go on injured reserve to undergo surgery for a serious hip injury, refrained from lashing out at the team in any way and set an NFL record with 10 forced fumbles to go with 11.5 sacks.
Umenyiora has been unhappy for quite some time with the contract extension that he signed in 2005. The collective bargaining agreement signed in 2006 prompted increased spending around the league, and other defensive linemen quickly eclipsed the $31 million deal, averaging $5.5 million per season, that he had signed.
Umenyiora has two years left on his contact. He can earn $3.875 million in salary and bonuses in 2011 and $4.725 million in salary and bonuses in 2012, far below others with similar career production, which explains Umenyiora's continuing desire for a trade or new contract from the Giants.
Those feelings haven't dissipated, according to a source close to Umenyiora, and the matter figures to come to a head shortly after the lockout ends. The Giants have been unwavering in the past about not trading the talented defensive end and wouldn't be contractually obligated to alter the contract, although the nature of this latest episode between the team and the player could heighten tensions on both sides and cloud Umenyiora's future in New York.