The Giants announced on Tuesday that they had released veteran defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka from his contract. Unless he re-signs for a lower amount, Kiwanuka will not play for the Giants in 2015.
This might come as a shock to some because Kiwanuka has been a part of New York’s defense – either as a linebacker or as a defensive end – since he was drafted by the team with the 32nd overall pick out of Boston College way back in 2006. However, Kiwanuka’s performance has declined over the past few years, and it’s time for the Giants to give younger players like Damontre Moore and Devon Kennard a shot at rushing the quarterback.
“The thing that has always impressed me about Kiwi is how serious he is about the game,” said head coach Tom Coughlin. “He was always prepared and always in outstanding condition and played very hard. And he had some nasty in him.
“I always felt like you could count on certain things from him: eight-nine sacks, harass the quarterback, and you could move him around, inside, outside. He is dependable, reliable and there is no question about his professionalism.”
During his nine seasons with New York, Kiwanuka racked up 464 tackles, 38.5 sacks, 13 forced fumbles, and three interceptions. Most importantly, Kiwanuka won two Super Bowl rings with the Giants. He was on injured reserve during Super Bowl XLII in Arizona, but played during the entire 2011 playoff run that ended with a Super Bowl XLVI victory Indianapolis.
Kiwanuka has been part of the Giants for so long that he wasn’t even drafted by current general manager Jerry Reese. Rather, he was the final first round draft choice by former GM Ernie Accorsi. It didn’t take long for Kiwanuka to establish himself as a leader on a Giants team that made the playoffs during the first three years of his career.
“Mathias has a warrior mentality,” said Reese. “He has been the ultimate team player for this franchise, and was a true pro from day one.”
Even though Kiwanuka hasn’t been as great recently as he used to be, Giants fans will likely remember him fondly as a versatile defensive stalwart who did whatever the team needed and always gave a full effort.
“I would have to back him off in practice and remind him that we’re not hitting the quarterback,” said Coughlin. “He would always agree and then I’d have to remind him again the next play.”