The New York Giants have come to terms on a new contract agreement with free-agent defensive end/linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka. The news was first reported by -- get this -- Giants defensive end Justin Tuck, who tweeted shortly before 1 p.m., "Kiwi is returning to the big blue. Yes sir." The news was shortly thereafter confirmed by Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com.
KiwanukaKiwanuka is one of four important free agents the Giants have been trying to re-sign -- along with running back Ahmad Bradshaw, tight end Kevin Boss and wide receiver Steve Smith. His return helps mainly because he is versatile and can play linebacker or defensive end in the Giants' 4-3 scheme. If they have a healthy roster that includes Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul, Kiwanuka can help at linebacker, where the Giants' defense is weakest. If one of those guys is hurt, he's a reliable starter at defensive end. And if Umenyiora follows through on his threat to hold out unless he gets a trade or a new contract ... well, Kiwanuka adds to the Giants' leverage. The Giants can tell Umenyiora to take his ball and go home, since they're comfortable using Kiwanuka in his place.
The only question is health. Kiwanuka missed 13 games last season because of a neck injury. And while he says he's fully healthy and ready to go, it's hard to know for sure until he gets out on the field and plays.
But on the whole, good move for the Giants, keeping a useful player with whom they're comfortable and familiar. Not sure what Kiwanuka got, but it's sure to be less than he would have gotten if he'd been coming off a fully healthy season and hitting the free-agent market. If he comes back at 100 percent, the Giants likely got a steal.