Friday, October 3, 2014

Osi Umenyiora Hints at a Possible Return to the New York Giants -- EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Osi Umenyiora returns to the Meadowlands for the first time Sunday, and it sounds like the former New York Giants pass-rusher wishes he never left. 

Umenyiora spent his first 10 years in the NFL here, before signing with the Atlanta Falcons in the spring of 2013. On a conference call with New York reporters Wednesday, he was asked if a part of him wishes he was still here. 

"Um, that’s a question I can’t really answer," Umenyiora said. "I did what was best for me, and the Giants did what’s best for them. That’s pretty much the only way I can answer that." 

Umenyiora had 75 sacks in nine seasons with the Giants (he missed 2008 due to injury), the fourth most in Giants history. He posted 7.5 sacks in his first season with the Falcons, but has been relegated to a third-down pass-rush specialist role this year. 

"Do I feel like I can be helping more? Yes, but I don’t have any control of that," Umenyiora said. "So whatever they ask me to do, I’m gonna go out there and do." 

Umenyiora was a big part of two Super Bowl-winning teams during his time in New York, but he was also the center of controversy at times because of contract disputes, including a training camp holdout in 2011. 

"I dislike some of the things that I did. But I was young, and as you get older you see some of those things -- you’re like, 'Man, why did I do that? That makes no sense,'" Umenyiora said. "But I have absolutely zero regrets. I left New York in a great relationship with everybody, from the owners, to the GM, to the coaches, to the players -- I still have a really good relationship with everybody there. 

"I’m not looking back or looking to this game as, 'Oh, I’m comin' to get revenge on them,' because it wasn’t even like that when I left. I’m just happy to be coming back and seeing some familiar faces." 

Umenyiora spoke glowingly about several Giants -- lauding fellow defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul for his practice habits and improved technique, left tackle Will Betty for his maturity, and running back Rashad Jennings for being very difficult to tackle. 

Umenyiora was once a big part of this team. Could he be a part of it again? His contract with the Falcons expires at the end of this season. Umenyiora is only 32 (he'll turn 33 next month), and said he wants to play "as long as possible." 

"You always want to go out playing well, and if it turns out that I am not playing well or I am not doing well, then obviously I am going to shut it down," he said. "If am still able to perform at a high level, the way I think I can, I am going to keep playing." 

The Giants may be in the market for a defensive end next spring, especially if they do not re-sign Pierre-Paul, who will be a free agent. 
"Eli’s my brother, man," Umenyiora said. "I’m not necessarily looking forward to it, I’m really not. I just gotta approach it like every other game. I have a lot of love for pretty much everybody over there, so I’m not looking forward to going out there and just destroying my former team the way most people would think. I have a job to do, and I have to go out there and execute."

For some reason, even though I know Osi is not close to the same type of playmaker that he was during his time with the Giants, I'm kind of excited at the thought of him returning to the Giants.  The Falcons D-Line is quite possibly the worst in the entire league but they're still only using Umenyiora in only obvious pass-rushing situations, when teams can focus on his ability to get to the passer.

JPP is in his contract year and so far, he's looking like the JPP of old, pressuring the QB, knocking down passes, and drawing double-teams from opposing offenses.  If he keeps this up (and stays healthy), the Giants will most likely re-sign him.  With Kiwi getting up there in age and the Giants propensity to always be deep at the Defensive End position, I can definitely see Osi coming back to New York to end his career and make it into the rotation on the outside.

It's good to see Osi maturing as both a player and person and recognizing some of the missteps he may have had in contract situations and such during his time in NY.  You can tell he just wants to be back in both New York and in a winning culture.

And I for one, would welcome him back with open arms...on the cheap of course, but still, open arms.