It's the middle of April and the tell-tale signs of spring are in the air— trees blooming, HBO courting the Jets for "Hard Knocks" and Osi Umenyiora making waves before the Giants off-season programs.
Last year, the New York Giants defensive end accused the team's GM Jerry Reese of not honoring a verbal agreement to renegotiate his contract— and filed an affidavit to try and prove it. Now he has another beef.
We always knew he was unhappy with his contract, now it turns out he's not too keen about being underutilized as well— even with a Super Bowl Championship to show for it.
Umenyiora— who has more sacks (27.5) than any other Giant over his last three injury-plagued seasons— spent 2011 playing behind Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul. Yesterday, the 30 year-old defensive end didn't beat around the bush about his role with the Giants.
"I don't like being a backup, I can tell you that," he said. "It worked for us last year, but I was coming off an injury or whatever. But I see myself as a starter in the NFL. I see myself as a Pro Bowl-type player. That's the way I see myself."
Umenyiora also stressed that he "didn't complain" last season, and "I'm not complaining now.
"I don't like being on the bench," he didn't complain. "I'm not OK with that."
Umenyiora— who came back from hip surgery last year and missed the entire 2008 season after surgery on his left knee— hasn't revealed whether or not he'll be at the start of the Giants optional offseason program next week.
"You never know what's going to happen," Umenyiora said at the NFL's pop-up store near Times Square yesterday. "We'll see what happens Monday."
Umenyiora, who is entering the final year ($3.975 million) of the deal he signed in 2005, has been long seeking a long-term extension. Reese said at February's NFL scouting combine that an extension "could happen" — but Umenyiora said "nothing has been done" at this point.
"You can say things, you understand what I mean?" said Umenyiora. "I've said a lot of things. But until it happens, it's just talk, I guess, until it actually has been done."
The NFL veteran knows the final call will ultimately be a business decision— both theirs and his.
"It would be a wonderful thing to do to start your career with one team and finish it with one team. I would love to do it," said Umenyiora who played nine years with the Giants. "Is it realistic? Is it reality? Who knows. I don't like being a backup. So, who knows how that is going to shake out. Hopefully, I'll be able to stay here and finish out my career, but I just don't know. I don't know if it is going to happen."