It's not every week we hear players specifically address a teammate's contract, but there has been plenty of this lately. Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher last week supported Matt Forte in the running back's quest for a new deal (which we feel is increasingly unlikely), and now New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck has gone to bat for fellow lineman Osi Umenyiora.
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Umenyiora, who has been unhappy with his current contract since early human history, is set to make just under $4 million in the final season of the seven-year, $41 million contract he signed in 2005. Umenyiora would like an extension and more money.
"It's hard," Tuck said Tuesday on "Rome", via the New York Daily News. "He's signed a contract, and I believe in abiding by that contract, but also I think he's outplayed that contract in today's market. And how some of these defensive ends are getting paid lots of money, I think he deserves to get paid."
Umenyiora agrees, but he's hardly the best defensive lineman on the team. He often shuttled in off the bench last season behind Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul. He missed the start of the season with a knee injury and turns 31 in November. More recently, he stands out as the team's lone no-show at voluntary organized team activities. Granted, when he's rolling, he's an effective and disruptive force -- but too often that has been off the field.
Giants general manager Jerry Reese has shrugged off Umenyiora's public Twitter shenanigans in recent weeks and has talked this offseason about wanting to work out a deal to keep the defender on the team for years to come. Tuck has gone to bat for his teammate, calling him "very important" to the team. For Umenyiora to find happiness in New York, the front office will need to agree. This could get uglier before it gets better.