So Osi Umenyiora has been told that he can no longer seek a trade. Turns out no one was willing to part with a first-round pick in order to acquire a soon-to-be 30-year-old with injury baggage.
Naturally, Umenyiora is pissed. Not because he’s embarrassed by the fact that he can’t fetch a first-rounder in a trade, but because the stubborn Giants refuse to budge from those absurd expectations. Umenyiora is an exceptional player, but no one is crazy enough to surrender a top pick for a guy who could begin to decline in the near future.
Umenyiora seems to be genuinely insulted by the way in which Giants general manager Jerry Reese has treated him and his veteran teammates. He claims Reese promised him a new contract if he performed well in 2010, and Umenyiora delivered with 11.5 sacks and a league-high 10 forced fumbles. It was a big bounce-back year after he struggled coming back from a torn meniscus in 2009.
But Reese won’t re-work a contract that will pay Umenyiora a total of just $7 million over the next two seasons, and Reese’s unrealistic asking price on the trade market means Osi has nothing to do but bitch.
“What really annoys me is the hypocrisy of people clamoring for my head for asking for a new deal or to be traded,” Umenyiora wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. “Saying I have 2 years left on my deal. These contracts only mean something to us? Where is (Shaun) O’Hara? Where is (Rich) Seubert? They were cut after being injured. They have years left on their deal. Why is Jacobs asked to take a pay cut? He has years left on his deal.
“The fact is in the business we are in, if you get injured, or they feel like you underperformed, they cut you without hesitation. But if you clearly outplay your contract, and ask for something to be done, you’re a bad guy and not a team player. It’s ridiculous.”
Of course, this isn’t something unique to the Giants’ front office. I apologize for the cliché, but this is a business. Some of the league’s most successful franchises are the ones that know when to cut bait on players just as they depart from their prime.
Still, Umenyiora’s argument is that, in a league without fully guaranteed contracts where players can be fired for falling short of expectations, they should be rewarded for exceeding them. And he has a point.
Technically, Reese and the Giants aren’t obligated to do anything. Umenyiora signed the contract and there are two years remaining. But this could be an optics nightmare for the team. No franchise wants to develop a reputation as an organization that doesn’t respect or reward veteran players.
Without Umenyiora, the Giants probably wouldn’t have won the Super Bowl in 2007. Now, after performing well, he’s asking Reese to fulfill a promise he allegedly made a year ago. And Reese is essentially flipping him the bird.
That has to make you wonder if free agents of the future will think twice before committing to the Giants.