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Osi saga holding Big Blue hostage

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- When the free-agent market finally appeared to dry up for Ahmad Bradshaw, the running back did what was expected -- he agreed to return to the New York Giants.

Bradshaw never found the money he and agent Drew Rosenhaus hoped for when Carolina went berserk and handed DeAngelo Williams crazy money ($43 million over five years) last week.

Now, Osi Umenyiora has been given the green light by the Giants to assess his value. But not only does Umenyiora need to find a team willing and able to give him a raise, but his agent, Tony Agnone, has to find a trade partner willing to give up a first-round pick.

You have to wonder if we will be seeing Umenyiora standing and watching Giants practice for a bit.

ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter says teams will not meet the Giants' asking price. There could be five teams -- the Rams, Ravens, Chargers, Broncos and Seahawks -- interested in Umenyiora, according to the New York Daily News.

But the Giants are going to have to lower their price or this standoff will continue to hover over Tom Coughlin's camp. Teams probably want to hold onto first-round picks now that they don't have to pay rookies astronomical figures. And while Umenyiora has a career total of 60 sacks and 28 forced fumbles, he is set to turn 30 in November and has had surgeries on his hip and knee.

The Giants, who want to keep Umenyiora with the remaining two years left on his contract, let Umenyiora gauge his worth and it's clear he's not worth a first-round pick at the moment. In an email to The Associated Press, Umenyiora alluded to what he thinks he's worth, mentioning how Carolina recently agreed to terms with Charles Johnson at $72 million over six years, including a $30 million signing bonus.

"How does a guy who had one good year (no disrespect to Charles Johnson) sign a deal and make more than both me and [Justin] Tuck combined? It's not right," Umenyiora said in the email. "Everyone in this business understands that is exactly what it is. Business."

Coughlin says Umenyiora hasn't become a distraction yet, and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said the defensive end has been in his meeting rooms paying attention and acting as part of the team.

But at some point, the Giants have to start preparing for life with or without their Pro Bowl defensive end later in camp.

"I can't minimize the fact that between Osi and Tuck, I think they caused 17 caused fumbles last year," Fewell said. "So how do you replace that? Hopefully if he is back with us, we can even increase that and make it better. [But] he has to want to be with us and we would love for him to be with us."

Fewell said he won't know the makeup of his defense "for several weeks now" due to personnel changes. He has yet to get his hands on his first-round pick, cornerback Prince Amukamara, who has yet to sign his contract.

Without Umenyiora, Fewell still has Mathias Kiwanuka and Jason Pierre-Paul to team up with Tuck. But Umenyiora allows Fewell to be the defensive scientist he loves to be. With Tuck and Umenyiora on the ends, Fewell has the option of moving Kiwanuka to linebacker more often.

And then there's the intriguing lineup known as "NASCAR," which puts all four defensive ends on the field together to wreak havoc in a passing situation.

"We have some changing parts in our defense," Fewell said. "How we employ those things will be determined a lot later."

If he isn't traded, it remains to be seen what Umenyiora will do to get a new contract. Tuck intimated that his good friend is healthy enough to practice and Coughlin said that Umenyiora's hip is not the reason why he is watching on the sideline.

While Umenyiora has been in a good mood around his teammates and coaches, he's annoyed with those criticizing him.

"What really annoys me is the hypocrisy of people clamoring for my head for asking for a new deal or to be traded," he wrote in the email. "Saying I have two years left on my deal. These contracts only mean something to us? Where is [Shaun] O'Hara? Where is [Rich] Seubert? True inspirational football players. They were cut after being injured. They have years left on their deal. Why is [Brandon] Jacobs asked to take a pay cut? He has [two] years left on his deal.

"The fact is in the business we are in, if you get injured, or they feel like you underperformed, they cut you without hesitation," he continued. "But if you clearly outplay your contract, and ask for something to be done, you're a bad guy and not a team player. It's ridiculous."

Bradshaw tried to get the best deal he could, but ended up returning to the Giants for a four-year deal ($18 million with $9 million guaranteed) that was likely less than what he had in mind.

Umenyiora is adamant about not playing under his current deal, which has two years remaining at a total of about $8 million. The next act in the Umenyiora saga will either be the Giants' lowering their price, fining the defensive end, or finding some sort of middle ground with Umenyiora by perhaps altering his contract.

"This thing has been going on for a while now and they haven't gotten rid of him yet," Tuck said. "I kind of feel like they are both feeling each other out right now. I know what Osi means to this team and I haven't allowed myself to think of him not being on this football team come opening day.

"I can tell you it would hurt. There are not a lot of guys like Osi. It's not like you can just go and pick up one of those guys off the street. He's still under contract with the Giants and that's hopefully how it will be for the rest of the year."

Now, we wait to see who makes the next move.

"I hope there is a chance," Umenyiora said when asked if there's any chance he can work things out with the Giants. "But who knows?"