Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Osi Umenyiora running out of options
By Dan Graziano
Earlier in the week, when the Giants gave Osi Umenyiora and his agent permission to seek a trade, I told you that that didn't mean he would be traded. Wednesday, Adam Schefter reported, the Giants told Umenyiora the window had closed and he was no longer permitted to seek a trade. This means, of course, that the Giants never entertained serious thoughts of trading him but wanted to allow him the chance to go out on the market himself and assess his value. They shouldn't take less than a first-round pick for a player of his talents, and they knew they wouldn't get that, so they let Umenyiora find out for himself in the hopes that it would prove to him that he's stuck with the Giants and this contract he doesn't like.
Fair? Of course not. Umenyiora is correct that he's underpaid and that system that allows teams to cut underperforming players but doesn't allow over-performing players to improve their contracts is unfair. But facts are facts, and the fact in this case is that the Giants have all the leverage and Umenyiora has none. So, having shown him that with their go-find-your-own-trade gambit, the Giants told Osi to take the night off, clear his head, process the fact that he's out of options and come back tomorrow ready to get at it. Instead, he showed up for practice and rode the exercise bike as he has been all week. Tom Coughlin said he was "pleased" that Umenyiora declined the offer of a night off and showed up anyway, but it remains to be seen what Umenyiora will do next.
If he's really determined to push this, and to sit out using his hip as the excuse, it could get ugly. But the problem is, fair or not, the ugliness is going to be directed at him. Fans will say he should get into camp. And at some point, as much as his teammates like and support him, one of the veterans in the locker room is going to have to say, "Hey, man, you tried, but it didn't work. Let's put it behind us and try and win some games here. Have a big year and get your money next year."
A less-than-ideal option, since the likelihood of injury as an NFL defensive end is high enough to make that strategy too risky. If Umenyiora does get hurt, his chances of getting the new contract he wants go out the window, maybe forever. Steve Smith is a perfect and proximate example. But at this point, Umenyiora is basically out of options, and it looks as if this situation won't come to a conclusion until he realizes that.