Kiwi Trying To Get Back

DE Mathias Kiwanuka tried the free agent market and had to settle for a small, two-year, $3.25 million deal with the Giants. But he may be part of the answer at defensive end as the Giants have ordered an end to Osi Umenyiora's search for a trade.

Considering Mathias Kiwanuka as an answer to any personnel problem is a gamble at this point.

But he's certainly in the conversation as the Giants try to take Osi Umenyiora's contract squabble in another direction.

Umenyiora met with GM Jerry Reese Wednesday afternoon and was told by Reese to take the afternoon practice off to clear his head and come back ready to work Thursday. Reese had previously informed agent Tony Agnone that he could no longer seek a trade to someone willing to pay Umenyiora the more than $10 million per year he seeks. The Giants had wanted first-round compensation for him, but despite contacting 21 teams, the agent could find nobody willing to give up that high a draft pick.

A source told the Daily News, however, that Umenyiora has no intentions of practicing until his contract situation is rectified to his satisfaction.

Can you spell Messy?

So Kiwanuka, along with second-year player Jason Pierre-Paul, becomes part of the solution if Reese and his defensive end's heads never do get together. If, that is, he can ever get back on the playing field.

It's not the career-threatening neck injury that's in the way this time. Though that cut 13 games out of his 2010 season and deprived him of free agent desirability, it's really the unsigned collective bargaining agreement that could keep him off the practice field.

Free agents and players who had their contracts re-done like Brandon Jacobs were supposed to be allowed back to work Thursday. But that was providing the players signed the new CBA. Since the union is still negotiating benefits and HGH testing with the owners, the 32 player reps have yet to be presented with a complete document for their approval.

Until that happens, as far as free agents providing their services, no ticky, no washy.

So Kiwanuka may still have to wait to get that first hit.

"I've been in this position before, so it's stuff that's going to be in the back of your head before you actually get that first hit. I know the process. But after I get out there and get that first one, it's going to be all right."

The sure bet is Pierre-Paul, whom linebacker Michael Boley described as "a tremendous athlete" because of his speed and strength despite his huge 6-foot-5, 270-pound frame. He showed glimpses of the havoc he might create in the backfield in limited time last season.

But if Kiwanuka can rebound from injury, he'll be a big part of the solution, too.

The best for all involved, of course, would be for Umenyiora to end his non-holdout holdout -- he attends camp but participates only in classroom sessions -- and get back to work.

Even Kiwanuka would prefer that, but he understands where Umenyiora is coming from.

He's living proof of someone who needed to get the best deal he could.

"You look on the other side of that coin, and I might not have been playing football," Kiwanuka said. "I'm definitely the example. (Health) is definitely a concern to every player out there. Coaches always say you never know when it's going to be your last snap. So when it comes time for business, that's something you always have to consider."

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