The minute Osi Umenyiora signed a restructured contract that raised his 2012 salary and added a voidable year to his contract, it was clear that his days as a member of the New York Giants were numbered. After a disappointing six sack campaign in 2012, the two sides showed minimal interest in reuniting for next season. Although Umenyiora reportedly turned down a three-year, $18 million from the Giants last offseason, the best offer he received on the open market was a two-year, $8.5 million commitment from the Atlanta Falcons. However, if Umenyiora does not produce in 2013, the Falcons can save $3.5 million in salary cap space by releasing him.
In the NFL, the only number that matters when it comes to money is how much guaranteed compensation is written into any given contract. For example, Big Blue signed Terrell Thomas to a four-year, $28 million agreement last offseason. After Thomas spent all of 2012 on the injured reserve, the team was able to rip up the previous deal and convince him to play for the veteran minimum for next season. More times than not, a player is not afforded the opportunity to play out his contract to its conclusion, as age and injury factors incline teams to terminate the contract early.
Given that the Falcons had no issues releasing Jonathan Abraham just one season after signing a long term contract, it stands to reason that Umenyiora is a likely candidate to become a salary cap casualty in Atlanta barring a breakout 2013 season. After 2013, Umenyiora will be 33 years old. He’s already best utilized as a pass rushing specialist on third-down, a role that he will be limited to as his career progresses into its latter stages. There will likely be better value on the free agent market for the money the Falcons are slated to pay Osi.
If Umenyiora hits free agency next season, the Giants could take a serious look at bringing him back in 2014. With Justin Tuck in the final year of his contract, the team may have a need at defensive end. Umenyiora will not be in line to receive a long term contract if he hits free agency for the second time in as many seasons, so he may be interested in a one-year, salary cap friendly deal with the organization that he has seen the most success under. If his relationship with general manager Jerry Reese has improved to the degree that both parties claim it has, then Umenyiora’s return to the Giants in 2014 may not be as far fetched as it seems right now.
Obviously, there’s a lot that has to happen between now and next ofsseason to make any of the aforementioned scenarios plausible. First, Osi has to become expendable to the Falcons, then the Giants have to have the interest and salary cap space to bring him back. Even then, the team will be getting an older and slower version of the Pro Bowler that helped lead the franchise to two Super Bowl Championships. However, if the scenario presents itself, there is a distinct possibility that we have no seen the last of Osi Umenyiora in the Giants uniform.
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