EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Still hoping there’s a chance he will play for the New York Giants, two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Osi Umenyiora is annoyed he is being portrayed as a bad guy for asking the team to renegotiate his contract.
In an email to The Associated Press on Monday, Umenyiora says he is frustrated some people are criticizing him because he wants the team to rework a contract that will pay him slightly more than $7 million over the next two seasons.
The Giants have refused to redo Umenyiora’s deal. They have given his agents permission to work out a trade for the 29-year-old who tied for the team high with 11½ sacks and had a league-high 10 forced fumbles last season.
“I hope there is a chance,” Umenyiora said of staying with the Giants. “But who knows?”
The nine-year veteran, who held out for the opening day of training camp, noted that teams don’t hesitate to cut players after they are injured, or to ask them to take pay cuts when their roles are reduced. He also said they should reward players who are being underpaid.
The Giants cut veteran starting offensive linemen Shaun O’Hara and Rich Seubert last week, and had running back Brandon Jacobs, who last his starting job to Ahmad Bradshaw, rework his contract to take less money.
“It’s just frustrating to see how people react to one thing, and not the other,” Umenyiora said. “Just be fair.”
Umenyiora said in an affidavit in an antitrust suit during the lockout that Giants general manager Jerry Reese agreed to redo his contract if he had a good season in 2010.
Reese has refused to discuss what he said to Umenyiora.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Monday night that he hopes the Umenyiora situation can be resolved and his veteran can get back on the field with the Giants. He said a hip injury that bothered Umenyiora last season is not the reason he is not practicing.
Umenyiora reported to training camp Saturday. He took a physical Sunday but did not practice with the team. He has attended meetings.
“What really annoys me is the hypocrisy of people clamoring for my head for asking for a new deal or to be traded,” Umenyiora wrote. “Saying I have 2 years left on my deal. These contracts only mean something to us? Where is O’Hara? Where is Seubert? True (AP) — inspirational football players.
“They were cut after being injured,” he said. “They have years left on their deal. Why is Jacobs asked to take a pay cut? He has years left on his deal. The fact is in the business we are in, if you get injured, or they feel like you underperformed, they cut you without hesitation. But if you clearly outplay your contract, and ask for something to be done, you’re a bad guy and not a t eam player. It’s ridiculous.”
Charles Johnson of the Carolina Panthers recently signed a six-year, $72 million contract with $21 million in guaranteed money. The five-year veteran also had 11½ sacks last season.
“How does a guy who had one good year (no disrespect to Charles Johnson) sign a deal and make more than both me and (Justin) Tuck combined?” Umenyiora added in the email. “It’s not right. Everyone in this business understands that is exactly what it is. Business. And just like none of us get upset when our teammates are released due to business decisions, the teams also don’t get upse t when something like this happens.”
Tuck said that Umenyiora’s holdout and the recent trade talk has not been a distraction. He hopes Umenyiora will be a Giant when the season starts.
“I know for a fact that if he is in a Giants uniform come September 11, he’ll be the Osi that you all have grown to love and respect as one of the premier defensive ends in the country,” Tuck said. “That, I don’t worry about. The only thing I worry about is if he’s going to be in a Giants jersey.”
Defensive end might be the Giants’ strongest position. In addition to Tuck and Umenyiora, New York has Mathias Kiwanuka and Jason Pierre-Paul.
Losing Umenyiora would hurt though, Tuck said.
“There are not a lot of guys like Osi,” Tuck said. “It’s not like you can just go and pick up one of those guys off the street, but again as of right now, he’s still under contract with the Giants and that’s hopefully how it will be for the rest of the year.”