Osi Umenyiora returns to Giants

Updated: June 5, 2012, 4:36 AM ET
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Osi Umenyiora says the New York Giants did not change anything from previous contract offers they pitched to him, but the defensive end just decided enough was enough and it was time to put his contract squabble to an end.

Saying that he has no hard feelings over his long contract dispute, Umenyiora returned to the Giants and joined his teammates on the field during the team's organized team activities Monday.

"(This) could have been done a long time ago," Umenyiora said in his first comments to reporters since agreeing to restructure the final year of his contract last Friday. "Honestly seeing the way my teammates Kiwi (Mathias Kiwanuka) and JP (Jason Pierre-Paul) and Antrel (Rolle), seeing the way they had my back, you need to get this done and the way they were talking, it made me realize it was more important to have teammates like that and be on a team like this then fighting and haggling over a couple of extra dollars.

Umenyiora It just wasn't going to happen. But I understood completely their perspective.

-- Giants DE Osi Umenyiora
on long-term contract extension

"It really wasn't worth for me to go somewhere else," he continued. "This is my 10th year here and I have had a great time here and I want it to continue and I feel like something special is being built over here and I just much rather be here than continue to fight and face all the negativity and criticism over really what amounted to be nothing."

The Super Bowl champs were one big happy family again on Monday. As Umenyiora met with a horde of reporters, Pierre-Paul welcomed Umenyiora back with a shout in the locker room. Teammates like Kiwanuka, Rolle and Justin Tuck all backed Umenyiora's desire for a new contract in recent weeks and hoped that the two sides would find a resolution soon.

"Very good to have him out there," coach Tom Coughlin said Monday. "There is never any question about Osi preparation-wise. He is a tremendous studier of the opponent. He knows exactly what his thoughts are going into the game and how the game plan fits. He will always do that, but to get back into a football frame of mind -- and a positive one at that -- it is a very good thing."

Umenyiora did not get into specifics of his new restructured contract but confirmed 2012 will remain the final year of his deal. The defensive end made it clear he holds no grudges toward the Giants and left the door open for the possibility of re-signing with the Giants after this season.

Umenyiora's deal bumps his 2012 pay from $4.725 million to $6.5 million through a combination of salary, per-game roster bonuses and sack incentives, sources confirmed to ESPN sports business analyst Andrew Brandt.

The deal offers no franchise tag limitation, sources told Brandt.

Some of the salary was converted to the signing bonus offered; a voidable 2013 year was also added in order to create some cap room, the sources said.

When asked if the Giants offered any more money above their original offers made in the past, Umenyiora replied, "Nah, not at all."

Umenyiora has long sought a new contract to replace the seven-year, $41 million deal he signed in 2005. He wanted a contract extension similar to the four-year extensions Philadelphia's Trent Cole signed worth $48.525 million, including $15 million guaranteed. Umenyiora also mentioned Indianapolis' Robert Mathis' recent four-year extension worth $36 million with $17 million guaranteed as a measuring stick for what he wanted.

"It just wasn't going to happen," Umenyiora said of his desire for a big contract extension. "But I understood completely their perspective."

"If I was them I'd do the same thing," he added. "I mean obviously you have Tuck, who's the face of the franchise and you have JPP who's a young phenom. I'm still a very good football player but you can't pay us all that kind of money. You're gonna hamstring your franchise so I would make the exact same decisions if I was them, no question."

Umenyiora said his longtime agent Tony Agnone would not sign off on the restructured deal so he decided to temporarily part ways with Agnone to come to the Giants' terms. The defensive end, though, plans to re-hire Agnone for future contract negotiations.

Last year, Umenyiora held out the first few weeks at training camp. Agnone was briefly allowed to seek a trade but no team was willing to offer a first-round pick in return. Umenyiora returned for three practices before opting for minor knee surgery after experiencing swelling in his knee.

Umenyiora apparently was not looking forward to going through another camp holdout.

"Last summer was different, what I was looking for last year and what I was looking for this year are completely different," said Umenyiora. "Things change. This year there was no way they were going to be able to give me a contract extension in line of what other people were getting."

Umenyiora had nine sacks in nine regular-season games in 2011 and another 3.5 sacks during New York's run to a Super Bowl title last potseason. Umenyiora, 30, said there were no promises made by the organization not to use its franchise tag on him next season, but he won't be upset if that happens.

Umenyiora said it will not be a problem coming off the bench.

"Really if it was anybody but JPP and Tuck then it would matter," said Umenyiora, who took first-team reps at defensive end with Tuck watching from the sideline to rest his shoulder. "But those are my brothers, man. If they're starting I don't care. I'll back those guys up happily."

Umenyiora was asked if he thinks he is worth more than what he will be playing for this season. The defensive end said all that matters is that he is happy to be back.

"Um, it doesn't matter, man," Umenyiora said. "I signed it. I'm here. Whatever I feel means nothing at this point. I'm happy with it."

"This is good for me, I'm happy," he continued. "And more importantly, it's the team I'm on and the guys who I'm playing with. Justin and JPP and Kiwi, we're all brothers and for all of us to be able to go out and play together is more important than anything."

Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
Follow him on Twitter »  Ohm's chat archive »

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