Well, looks like Osi Umenyiora is at it again. Only this time, he's bringing his case to court.
The recent publication by ESPN of an affidavit to be filed next month as part of the players' antitrust suit against the NFL shows that Umenyiora remains vehemently unhappy about his contract status. In the legal paper, Umenyiora claims the Giants lied to him when GM Jerry Reese told him early in 2008 that he would renegotiate his deal in two years if he continued to play at a high level.
"After about an hour of discussing my current contract, as well as the contracts of other defensive ends currently playing in the National Football League, Mr. Reese told me that two years from the start of the 2008 league year, if I was currently playing at a high level, we'd either renegotiate my current contract so that it would be equal to that of the top five defensive ends playing or I would be traded to a team that would do that," Umenyiora stated.
He went on to say, under signed oath, that "Before leaving the meeting, I asked Mr. Reese twice if he was absolutely sure that would be the case. He then told me that he was an honest and church-going man and that he would not lie, which I believed to be the case. Under the penalty of perjury these statements are true and accurate."
Of course, Umenyiora's contract was not renegotiated, and he registered his anger after the 2009 season by staging a Super Bowl radio tour in which he demanded a trade. Obviously, the Giants paid him little mind, and he went on to rebound from an injury-and-demotion-plagued 2009 to have a standout 2010.
Whether one thinks this is simply a case of Umenyiora getting back at the team through his presence as a named litigant in the anti-trust suit, or a true renewal of his trade demand, the fact is he's still tied to the Giants for two more years. This year, he's due to get paid $3.5 million, well under market value. And given that he's had surgery to removed some bone in the troublesome hip that caused irritation (a stabbing pain on every play), the level he'll play at this year is again a question mark.
So, it appears Umenyiora again doesn't have a lot of leverage, save for his carping. The labor issues that have eliminated any possibility of contract discussions until their resolution appear to be heading toward a conclusion. But until that happens, nothing on the Umenyiora front can occur.
And even after a new CBA is in place, how will the Giants handle their fast pass rusher? The guess here is that they'll do the same thing they did when Umenyiora went on his tour, utterly displeased with the $41 million deal he seemed so happy with when he signed it in 2005 -- ignore him.
They'll let him play this year, whether he holds out or not. If he plays well, then they can come to him after the season. If he holds out and his level goes down, or if the surgery decreases his productivity, they can make a decision on whether Jason Pierre-Paul is ready to take over there and either trade him or force him to play out the last year of his contract.
Either way, no matter how many affidavits Umenyiora files, the Giants have the hammer. And they'll be in no rush to placate a guy who ran his mouth one entire offseason and now stands as a star plaintiff in a case that will be rendered moot once a new CBA is reached.
Umenyiora simply doesn't have the pull he thinks he has.