Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Updated: August 18, 8:04 AM ET
John Mara on Steve Smith, Kevin Boss
By Ohm Youngmisuk
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- John Mara wanted to keep Steve Smith and Kevin Boss and thought the New York Giants did what they could within reason to keep the two ex-Giants.
Also, the Giants CEO and co-owner confirmed that the team offered Osi Umenyiora performance incentives that he feels are "easily achievable, which would have put a lot more money into the contract." Umenyiora ended up rejecting the offers as he holds out hope for a new contract or a trade later this year.
In an interview with Mike Lupica on ESPN New York 1050, Mara details what happened with Smith and Boss while also talking about trying to come to a middle ground with Umenyiora.
Mara confirmed that the Giants offered Smith "a huge deal" last year but were turned down by Smith, who wanted to test free agency. The wide receiver then suffered a knee injury that required microfracture surgery in December.
"The truth is last year during the season we tried to sign him to a long-term deal, a huge deal that would have made him one of the highest-paid receivers in the league," Mara said. "His agent turned it down and wanted to wait and test the waters in free agency."
"Unfortunately, Steve ended up getting hurt with a horrific knee injury that required microfracture surgery, which is about as serious an injury as you can sustain," Mara continued. "We attempted to re-sign him and we had an offer on the table with his agent for several weeks before he signed with the Eagles."
Mara said the team "pressed" Smith's agent, Ben Dogra, to get back to them after the initial offer made in this free agency and that "they kept assuring us that they would."
"We never did get any type of response or counter offer and next thing we knew he signed with the Eagles," Mara said. "Shame on us in the sense for not being more aggressive about it but I'm not sure what else we could have done."
Mara admits, though, that the Giants likely would not have matched the one-year deal with a reported $2 million guaranteed.
"You have to have the courage to say that if the number goes beyond that value, you got to be able to walk away," Mara said. "In this case, coming off the injury that he came off of, they definitely paid more money than we were willing to pay. We would have liked to have had an opportunity to counter but I am not so sure that we would have even gone there because it is a serious injury."
As for Boss, Mara said that the team had a verbal agreement with the tight end but the Raiders swooped in and doubled their offer of guaranteed money while the tight end was in the air on his way back to New Jersey.
Boss received a four-year deal worth $16 million with $8 million guaranteed.
"We thought we had a deal agreed to," Mara said. "The agent had verbally committed pending Kevin's approval. Kevin was on a plane on his way to the East Coast and while he was on the plane, he hit the lottery and the Raiders came in and basically doubled the money that we were willing to pay."
"They were the only team in the league that was willing to pay more than we were willing and in fact they ended up doubling the guaranteed money," he said.
Mara is confident that the Giants have enough talent to replace the two offensive contributors.
He also believes that Umenyiora will give the team his best effort and not let his contract situation affect his performance. Umenyiora can't renegotiate a new contract this season if he accepts incentives, according to sources.
"I hope so, I think it is a good sign he is out there practicing and working hard," Mara said. "When you watch him, it seems like he is enjoying himself."
"I understand the situation, guys have relatively short careers and want to get as much money as they can while they can and strike while the iron is hot," Mara added. "It's not the first time it has happened to us and not the last time. We attempted to work some incentives into his contract, many of which were easily achievable, which would have put a lot more money into the contract. For whatever reason they chose not to accept that. We just want him on the field."
Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com.