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The New York Giants face the off season with several questions. One of those is whether or not 10 year veteran Osi Umenyiora will be able to come back. In years passed, this would be a simple decision. This time, however, it is a little more complicated.
Several factors go into the decision; salary cap limits, his asking price, younger players waiting to step in and current Giants players hitting the free agent market are among them. While Umenyiora has stated that he would like to return, it is a little more complex than that.
His performance has steadily declined while others are waiting to take his place. With names like Jason Pierre-Paul, Adewale Ojomo, Justin Trattou and Adrian Tracy all chomping at the bit, Umneyiora has not been able to string together consistent seasons.
The past three seasons, he ended with 6, 9 and 11.5 sacks respectively. He does, however, have two rings and 75 sacks in his tenure with the team. He has the track record to get big money somewhere.
While his asking price will be high, the Giants have other options and may not be desperate enough to just throw money at him. Umenyiora has stated that he is "keeping his options open" though he would like to stay with the team.
One major factor that may decide that is the Giants salary cap and how many players they need to re-sign. As of right now, there are 26 players (including Umenyiora) that the Giants need to either ink to new deals or replace.
With a list that big comes the need to prioritize by level of importance. Players like Victor Cruz, Chase Blackburn and Martellus Bennett all have to take priority as they play in positions that are already thin. Compared to those positions, the pass rush is filled to the brim with talent.
With all that said, Umenyiora has said that he would be open to other teams. Among them is the Giants little brother franchise, the New York Jets. The Jets are a team in massive transition. They may have a new offense with new faces next year, but the defense will be stronger. With the return of Darrell Revis, the addition of Umneyiora would be huge for them.
For him, it would make sense too. He would be playing in the same stadium. He wouldn't have to move his family. He not have to adjust to the media much and he would get to play the AFC East, a division he does well against, six times a year.
At the end of the day, no one wants to see their dominant players leave after a decade. Fans and players all would rather have a guy like Umenyiora retire with Big Blue, much like his predecessor, Michael Strahan, before him. That is not always an option though and leaving for greener pastures is a part of the game.
While it may not be the part we like, it is a part that plays a pivotal role in the direction of a franchise. If GM Jerry Reese has proven anything in his time with the Giants, it is that he do what is best for the team, not for the player.
Because of that, we should be confident that whatever happens as this drama plays out, the Giants will be the better for it.