- Dan Graziano, ESPN New York Giants reporter
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So our man in Atlanta, Vaughn McClure, has this today from former New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora. Osi says he'd like to keep playing football, and with his contract up and free agency two weeks away, I guess he felt it was time to make sure everybody knew that. He is 33 years old and hasn't been a full-time player for some time, but he's always been able to rush the passer and it's not crazy to think he might be able to contribute as a pass-rusher in the right situation.
Umenyiora also told Vaughn that, when it comes time for him to retire, he'd like to do so as a Giant:
"It was nearly a third of my life that I was there in New York, and I did a lot of good things there," Umenyiora said. "As a team, we won some Super Bowls. I was able to go to a couple of Pro Bowls and be like an All-Pro player over there. Unless I'm able to do that somewhere else -- which I don't know how likely that is -- then it would only make sense, whenever it is that I retire.
"I'm not going to play another 10 years. I'm not going to play another three years. Whenever it is that I retire, I think it would only make sense for me to do that as a Giant."
Now, that could be as simple as the Giants putting out a news release announcing Umenyiora's retirement once he decides to do it. Or it could mean Umenyiora returning to play a final season for the team. The former possibility is obviously far more likely than the latter, but with Umenyiora looking for work it's worth at least asking the question of whether the latter is possible at all.
The Giants are going to bring Jason Pierre-Paul back as one of their starting defensive ends, either on a long-term deal or as their franchise player. But on the other side, things are murkier. Mathias Kiwanuka is likely on his way out. Robert Ayers is coming off a season-ending pectoral injury. Damontre Moore is still only 22 and working on his maturity issues. Kerry Wynn, Jordan Stanton and guys like that are unproven. The Giants are almost certain to be looking for some sort of cheap help at that other defensive end spot, even if it's just another rotational player or two. Umenyiora, at this point in his career, would surely come cheap.
He'd also be reunited in New York with Steve Spagnuolo, who was defensive coordinator early in Umenyiora's Giants career and is back for a second tour of duty. That makes a Giants return even more appealing for Umenyiora, who had 13 sacks in 2007 under Spagnuolo and never had that many in a season again (averaging 7.3 per season since and topping out at 11.5 in 2012).
Can we rule this out? Of course not. They brought gimpy, broken-down Mario Manningham to camp last year and gave him a chance to win a job. If Umenyiora can't find work elsewhere, wants to play and would take a veteran minimum, non-guaranteed deal, sure, I could see the Giants bringing him to camp. Yes, he had his feuds with GM Jerry Reese, but Reese is no grudge-holder, and as the Spagnuolo hire shows, the Giants aren't afraid to reach back into their past glory years in hopes of a present-day boost.
I'd put the chances of a Giants-Umenyiora reunion somewhere under 50 percent, but I don't think they're super close to zero. Far stranger things have happened, and it may be worth a shot at the tail end of free agency to see what an old friend has left.
With free agency approaching, Osi Umenyiora could bring help to the New York Giants, who need depth at defensive end.