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Holdout watch: Osi Umenyiora

7/29/2011

The Giants' players are reporting today for the first day of training camp in East Rutherford, N.J. But defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who is unhappy enough with his contract that he swore an affidavit accusing GM Jerry Reese of being a liar, did not show up for his scheduled 9 a.m. physical. And Adam Schefter reports that Umenyiora will not be showing up for a scheduled 1 p.m. meeting.

The question becomes what the Giants will do if Umenyiora holds out. He has two years and $8 million left on his contract, and the Giants are up against the cap and currently preoccupied with trying to sign free agents Ahmad Bradshaw, Kevin Boss and Steve Smith, as well as finding linebacker help on the free-agent market. Umenyiora's claim in court was that Reese promised him that, if he performed as one of the top defensive ends in the league, he'd get a new contract or a trade to a team that would give him one, and that Reese has broken that promise.

But while Umenyiora did rack up 11.5 sacks last year, he had just seven the year before and missed the 2008 season with an injury. So there's some dispute about whether his performance has lived up to his end of the deal he claims he and Reese made. And regardless, that deal wasn't in writing, so all we have to go on is Umenyiora's word about how that conversation went.

The Giants have a couple of options, which are:

  • Give Umenyiora a new contract. I don't see why they would have any motivation to do this. They have Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka and Jason Pierre-Paul to use as pass-rushing ends, and while they would prefer to have Umenyiora on the team, they can patch the pass rush together without him if need be.

  • Trade Umenyiora. This likely would only happen if they decided they were sick of having him around and listening to him complain. Surely, they could get something good for him in a trade. But his public demands for a trade haven't helped their leverage should they decide to engage in trade talks.

  • Call his bluff. It's hard to see how a holdout helps Umenyiora here. The Giants hold all the cards, fair or unfair, and Umenyiora's best bet is to show up, play his tail off and force them into a position from which they'd look silly for not extending him later this year or next offseason. Yes, he runs the risk of getting injured and cut. Yes, that's the inherent problem with the NFL's team-favorable contract system. (Though the NFLPA did secure injury guarantees in contracts in the new labor deal.) But it's where Umenyiora is right now, and sitting out, getting fined $30,000 a day and looking like a crybaby when the Giants have enough coverage at his position isn't likely to pay off for him in the long run.

I'm betting they call his bluff. They could get mad enough to deal him, but the Giants don't generally act out of anger like that.