Because of the lockout or in spite of it, this NFL offseason has had no shortage of strange subplots. The offseason always does, but for some reason, this year's bunch of sideshows seem to involve the St. Louis Rams, whether for legitimate reasons (LA stadiums) or pure speculation (Plaxico Burress). Those are old news now, talk radio fodder. Today brings a whole new opportunity to drag the Rams into speculation.
Giants DE Osi Umenyiora filed a sworn affidavit in the NFLPA antitrust suit, using his status as a plaintiff to express his anger with the Giants. The elevator version goes like this: Giants GM Jerry Reese told Osi that he would get a new contract on par with the five highest paid defensive ends in the NFL if he continued to play at a high level. This was in 2008, a season he missed due to injury.
Umenyiora did bounce back, accumulating 11.5 sacks last year and forcing a league-high 10 fumbles.
Don't bother straining for a connection to the antitrust suit. Focus instead on what this would seem to imply about Umenyiora's future with the Giants. Whether or not the Giants give him a new contract remains to be seen, but he does have two years left on his current deal. That leaves the Giants with three options: 1) keep him and see what happens, 2) trade him with his value pretty high, or 3) release him, which seems unlikely.
The timing, weeks before a likely end to the lockout, makes this move interesting. Obviously, it's just another case of a player wanting more money, theater that happens every year. Umenyiora, however, has decided to do it within the context of the lockout. Of course, calling your GM a liar never goes over well, lockout or not.
Reese has one decision to make with regards to free agent Mathias Kiwanuka, recently cleared to play after dealing with a pretty serious neck injury. Umenyiora had offseason hip surgery and played through a torn labrum (shoulder) last year. The Giants do still have Justin Tuck and some young players, including 2010 first-round pick Jason Pierre-Paul, ready to step into the fold.
It's highly unlikely that the Rams would pursue a free agent defensive end that wants to be paid what Umenyiora does after spending a first-round pick on DE Robert Quinn. I'm more concerned with how the Giants' dealings with Umenyiora might effect their situation with DT Barry Cofield. Cofield wants a new contract to stay in NY; he said that he will not play a second year under a RFA tender. It shouldn't have much of an impact, since the Giants also have plenty of depth at DT. However, it's a situation that demands some attention as the balance of experience on their line might dictate some juggling of priorities. Unlikely, but worth watching.