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Umenyiora unhappy with contract, but Giants still an option

  • By NFL.com
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Defensive end Osi Umenyiora might be unhappy with his contract, but he has not ruled out a return to the New York Giants.

NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora reported Thursday that Umenyiora gave a deposition as part of the Brady et al v. the National Football League et al case, claiming that Giants general manager Jerry Reese promised to either trade him or make him among the top five defensive ends in the league back in 2008, according to sources who have seen the affidavit.

In the statement, which was given under the penalty of perjury, Umenyiora details conversations with Reese, saying that 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, was also deposed.

Umenyiora, 29, claims that Reese has failed to make good on his word.

As one of the plaintiffs in the Brady case, he provided the statements to NFL Players Association lawyers to show the kind of "irreparable" harm being done to players by the lockout.

Despite the drama, Umenyiora told The New York Times on Friday that he would "absolutely" be willing to return to the Giants.

"I love my teammates," Umenyiora said. "The owners of the team, Mr. (John) Mara and Mr. (Steve) Tisch, I'm really cool with both of them. They came to the hospital when I was injured. They're wonderful people. I don't have a beef with them per se. At the end of the day, they're going to have to make the best decision for them.

"If they renegotiate my deal, I have to be on the field, and I have to perform. To play all those guys is going to be very, very difficult. For everyone to get their chance to showcase their skills, it’s going to be difficult to do that."

Said Umenyiora: "Any time you mention my name, it seems as if it’s just a firestorm of negativity, and Osi doing this and Osi doing that. Nobody in that organization or on that team can tell you I’m a disruption or a negative person or I’m perceived in such a way, because they’d be lying."

McCoy takes shot at Umenyiora
Eagles RB LeSean McCoy took to Twitter Thursday to offer his opinion on Osi Umenyiora, describing the DE as "soft, overrated and the third best lineman on New York’s defensive line."
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Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy came out of the woodwork Thursday to respond to Umenyiora's situation via Twitter, calling the defender "overrated n soft" and the "3rd best d-line on his team honestly."

Umenyiora fired back, telling The Times: "That little Chihuahua or poodle in the backfield. He doesn't have to block me. ... If you have something to say, say it man to man. You can't be a Twitter gangster. That's easy to do, trying to be a tough guy. Say it to my face, and we'll see what happens."

Umenyiora also spoke to The Star-Ledger on Friday and referred to McCoy as "Lady Gaga."

"I mean, he’s a girl, man. Who does stuff like that?" Umenyiora said. "If he has more of these things to say, he can say 'em to my face."

Umenyiora went on to describe his contentious relationship with McCoy.

"Yeah, me and him, we had words on the field -- both times we played. I hate him, he hates me, period. He chose to take that off the field and make it public when it's something that's between me and him. It’s something we can address on the football field. He let the whole world know about it, so I’m going to respond."

Said Umenyiora of past entanglements: "Oh, he said all kinds of stuff. He called me an 'African (expletive).' It was bad. It was pretty intense between me and him. I said a couple of things to him."

If Umenyiora ends up with another club, it will pull him out of a Giants-Eagles rivalry he labeled "rough," but he said he'll find his way back to McCoy one way or another.

"I’ll see him somewhere for sure. It’s going to continue, man. There's going to be no going back from this one because I feel he crossed the line."

Giants wideout Steve Smith joined the fray Friday, tweeting: "The nerve of certain youngins running their mouth." 

Smith's message included a photo montage of the Giants celebrating their Super Bowl XLII victory next to an empty Eagles trophy case.

"Eagles have a great team as do we," Smith continued. "They've had our number lately but until you win something major I don't wanna hear it."

Umenyiora, a seven-year veteran, has been unhappy for quite some time with the contract extension 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 a season, that he had signed.

With 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.

Umenyiora's monster season in 2007 -- in which he posted 13 sacks and helped the Giants win the Super Bowl -- spurred the meeting with Reese that was covered in the affidavit. A league source, however, pointed out that there could conceivably 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.

In the two years Umenyiora was to perform at a high level, he did not do so -- he spent 2008 on injured reserve with a knee injury and lost his starting spot and became a situational player in 2009 while clashing with the coaching staff. La Canfora reports that 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.

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