- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN Staff Writer
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As he approaches an offseason full of uncertainty after 10 years with the New York Giants, Osi Umenyiora said Thursday there's a chance he could return and finish his career with the team, despite saying shortly after the season it was "probably time to move on."
"There's a chance, absolutely," Umenyiora told reporters in New Orleans on Thursday. "Of course (there) is. Hopefully that'll happen. I prefer to finish out my career there. But there's a lot of things in play here. It's not going to be totally my decision. They're going to have some decisions to make also. It's going to be a collective effort. My agent's going to have his say. Hopefully things will work out there. I prefer to stay there."
Umenyiora has long wanted a new lucrative contract and a chance to show that he is still a starting defensive end in this league. But he has butted heads with Giants general manager Jerry Reese in the past over his contract and said after the season on ESPN New York 98.7 that "I think now is probably time to move on."
Umenyiora has played out his contract and will be a free agent. The defensive end told the New York Post that while his "preference is to return" to the Giants, his agent will be contacting a couple of teams at a later time.
Umenyiora did not rule out the New York Jets as one of those teams.
"Rex Ryan, when I was coming out of college he was with Baltimore at the time and he came down to work me out at Troy, he came to Atlanta, just me and him," Umenyiora said when asked about the Jets by the Post. "We had a pretty good time out there so I've always enjoyed him as a coach and as a person. That might be a good fit. Hopefully it will be with the Giants.''
Umenyiora told reporters that his decision on where he will play next season will not be "solely based on money."
"Honestly, man, I think not only do I want to get something financially, but I want a chance to prove I am who I say I am," he said. "Wherever I get the best opportunity to do that is I think where I'm going to go. Hopefully that'll be in New York."
"I feel like I'm a Pro Bowl player and I feel like I'm a starter in this league," he added. "Obviously that might be difficult to do in New York. But the door's still open there. It's something I would really relish that opportunity to finish my career there."
Umenyiora has been part of a rotation that includes starters Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck. Umenyiora, 31, had six sacks last season and a total of 75 sacks and 32 forced fumbles in his Giants career.
Following the 2010 season in which he had 11.5 sacks and 10 forced fumbles, Umenyiora clashed with Reese over his desire for a new contract.
Umenyiora admits that his emotions sometimes get the best of him and regrets some of the things he has said in the past.
"Of course," he said. "There's a lot of things I wish I hadn't openly come out and said. Obviously, Jerry Reese, he has 53 guys to manage. He isn't just in the business of managing Osi Umenyiora. As I got older, that's just something I had to realize, come to grips with. I regret a lot of the ways I handled that situation. But all that's in the past. Me and Jerry are cool. He's a very good man and the Giants are a great, first-class organization."
Umenyiora knows, though, that he likely will not get everything that he wants -- a starting spot and more money -- if he stays with the Giants.
"Jason is a Pro Bowl player, and Justin Tuck I think is going to have his best year as a pro this year," Umenyiora said. "I'm calling that right now. I just have that feeling about him. (Mathias) Kiwanuka's there. Watch out for (Adrian) Tracy. They have some very good football players over there. But if they want me back and we're able to come to an agreement, I'll definitely be there."
7hEric D. Williams