The Giants are almost a week into training camp, yet the biggest story remains about a guy who isn’t even practicing.
Osi Umenyiora was given permission by the Giants to seek a trade and the team is reportedly looking for a first-round pick in return. Despite having what general manager Jerry Reese deemed as a “good talk” with Umenyiora over the weekend, it looks like both parties are ready to part ways.
Umenyiora’s agent, Tony Agnone, was already on the phones yesterday morning looking for the best deal for his client. Reese, meanwhile, said although they had a good talk on Sunday night, his mission is to do “what’s best for the New York Giants.” He also declined “any further comments about Osi until we get all the issues resolved.”
Regardless of what happens during talks, Reese allowed that Umenyiora is expected to remain in training camp pending any movement. Umenyiora watched practice from the sidelines on Sunday night, mostly from a stationary bike.
Justin Tuck said he’s holding out hope that “things will work out” and he’s honestly “not even worrying [because] I feel as though Osi will be a Giant.”
Strategy is the name of the game now for Umenyiora and the Giants, as both parties don’t seem to want to give an inch. Reese is upset that all of this ugliness has come out publicly, while Umenyiora is miffed because he feels he’s been led astray.
In a sworn affidavit, as part of the recent Brady vs. NFL anti-trust lawsuit during the lockout, Umenyiora said Reese told him in 2008 that if the defensive end were still playing at a high level in two years, he’d reward him with a new contract or trade him to a team that would pay him like a top-five defensive end.
Umenyiora, a two-time Pro Bowler, has seemingly held up his end of the bargain as he’s coming off a season in which he tallied 11.5 sacks and a league-high 10 forced fumbles. The veteran defensive end has two years remaining on his contract worth $8 million.
Big Blue notes
» Ahmad Bradshaw’s re-signing brought a collective “YES!” from the likes of Terrell Thomas and Justin Tuck. No word, though, if D.J. Ware was waving any pom-poms. Ware, notably a third-stringer and special team ace, was taking most of the snaps sans Bradshaw and Jacobs. Now it seems he goes back to his unassuming role.
» Tuck said he will not lobby on behalf of Umenyiora: “The front office knows where I stand. I don’t need to tell them.” Tuck did say while he supports both sides, he once “thought about” doing what Osi has done, thinking he’s far outreached his contract but added he usually thinks a player should play out his deal: “I feel it’s important to play out your contract as long as you’re happy, as long as you feel as though they’re doing right by you … when my contract comes up, we’ll talk about my contract. Until then, I’m happy to be a New York Giant.”
» Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said the rust is certainly there because instead of OTAs [organized team activities] or mini-camps, this is the first time players are getting a taste of Giant football. He said the younger guys are most affected by the shortened offseason. Gilbride did point out that second-year wideout Victor Cruz has “looked pretty good” and may push for the slot receiver spot left open by Steve Smith’s absence.
» Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell is happy to have Mathias Kiwanuka return. Fewell said Kiwi can “definitely” be a starting DE in he NFL — maybe even here if Umenyiora gets dealt. He gushed when discussing Kiwi: “His makeup and mentality as far as how he attacks blockers and how he approaches the game. He has excellent push off the ball, excellent strength, and his long arms can keep a defender at bay.” Said he’s looking forward to moving Kiwi all along the defense.
» Fewell added — provided Osi stays — don’t be surprised to see four defensive ends at the same time on obvious passing downs [Osi, Tuck, Kiwi, and Jason Pierre-Paul].
» Fewell said he expects safety Kenny Phillips to take a “quantum leap” this season and “take on a bigger role.” Fewell added he will not “protect him” as much as he did last season when Phillips was coming back from a knee injury.
» Phillips said he’s more than ready for an advanced role, especially since it looks like Deon Grant won’t return. Phillips said he “watches TV like everybody else” and sees the competition making moves while Big Blue basically stands pat. He said he’s not worried, though, and has faith in the front office: “We try not to [think about why they’re not making a splash in free agency]. Of course we see it because we have TVs, but we trust the organization, and we trust our GM. We’re pretty sure they’re going to get someone in here.”
» Aaron Ross is fully recovered from a partially torn plantar fascia in his right foot. He said he’s “really healthy … it’s the best I’ve felt since rookie year.” As cheery as he was to talk about anything but being injury prone, Ross was as quick and adamant in disputing the idea he’d ever play safety in a pinch – as the Giants had toyed with the idea in the past: “No. Not a chance.”
» Hakeem Nicks gets the last word on the Plaxico Burress saga. When asked what he thought about all the hoopla of the Giants wanting to bring in Burress, Nicks shrugged and said, “I didn’t.”
Bradshaw signs deal
As one Giant seems headed for the exit, another will return.
Umenyiora may be on the way out, but Ahmad Bradshaw has reportedly
reached a four-year, $18 million deal with the only team for which he’s
ever played. Nine million dollars are guaranteed.
The Giants sent a message to Bradshaw by bringing in RB Jason Snelling. Within hours, Bradshaw re-signed.
Meanwhile, Snelling is left to find another team to use him as bait and is almost certainly headed somewhere else because the Giants’ backfield now boasts three talented runners — Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs and D.J. Ware.
The Giants always intended to re-sign Bradshaw, who took the reigns of the number one back from Jacobs midway through last season – just not at the asking price he was seeking following DeAngelo Williams’s hefty pay raise.
Williams, a comparable runner to Bradshaw, received a six-year, $43 million deal from the Panthers with $21 million guaranteed. Bradshaw proved his worth last season, rushing for 1,235 yards and totaling over 1,500 yards from scrimmage, but there was no way he’d garner Williams money. The Giants tried to meet him halfway last week by offering what general manager Jerry Reese dubbed a “fair deal” — and even went as far as asking Jacobs to rework his deal and take a pay cut — but Bradshaw reportedly turned down New York’s initial offer. That forced the Giants to go to Plan B — baiting the running back with the veiled threat of bypassing him altogether.
There was a time when Bradshaw was seemingly in the driver’s seat as he played the free-agent market. Unfortunately for him it quickly dried up. Bradshaw originally flirted with the idea of joining the Dolphins, telling a local radio show, “Miami looks real good right about now.” But then the Dolphins traded for former Saints running back Reggie Bush, ending that avenue.
Bradshaw also had a planned visit to Cincinnati, but that too dried up once the Bengals re-signed Cedric Benson. Bradshaw reportedly drew interest from the Redskins late last week, but they traded for Tim Hightower over the weekend.
It was about that time that the savvy Giants brass called Bradshaw’s and Rosenhaus’s bluff and brought in Snelling for a visit. The former Falcon flew in late Sunday night and arrived at the Timex facilities early yesterday morning — just in time for Bradshaw to agree to his new deal.
Follow Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8 for live updates and news from Giants training camp.