Osi Umenyiora

East Rumors: Pats, Giants, Redskins, Eagles

Although annoying many fans to no end with its 16-month-plus shelf life, Deflategate remains a key topic of conversation as the 2016 season approaches.

As a result of a report from an unlikely source, the status of John Jastremski with the Patriots is in question, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reports. Comedian Jim Breuer received an email from one of the equipment managers implicated in the Deflategate proceedings that points to Jastremski being quietly fired by the Pats last season.

The last news coming from New England about Jastremski’s status came last fall, when the team announced in September Jastremski and Jim McNally were reinstated after their NFL suspensions, and then in October when Bill Belichick said the team was still searching for a role for Jastremski. However, Breuer’s email describes a November 2015 weekend encounter in Mexico where Jastremski, who invited Breuer for a drink and emailed him on November 10 thanking him for the conversation, said the Patriots fired him and that he was unable to get another NFL job.

Volin reached out to the Patriots about this, but the team did not reply. While not a traditional source, as Volin points out, Breuer detailing a November conversation with Jastremski alters the narrative about the team’s belief of its innocence. That said, the alleged dismissal could have conceivably been unrelated.

Here’s the latest coming out of the Eastern divisions from some more NFL-based sources.

  • Kirk Cousins watched various highlights of Josh Doctson‘s work at TCU and envisions the Redskins having another key red zone option to go with Jordan Reed. “He is a special player,” Cousins said during Washington’s OTAs, per Tarik El-Bashir of CSNMidAtlantic.com. “Looks like he can make the contested catch. It’s very natural for him to go up and catch that type of pass. He can run well. He has got great size. I almost thought he was a tight end when he showed up because if his size.” At 6-foot-2, the former Wyoming and TCU target differs from Cousins’ other top receivers, with Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson and Jamison Crowder standing at 6-foot or shorter.
  • Osi Umenyiora helped the Giants land French receiver Anthony Dable, according to Barbara Barker of Newsday. Now an NFL ambassador and announcer in London, Umenyiora steered the Giants toward the 27-year-old European performer during a February tryout in Florida. Having a background not too dissimilar to Vikings sixth-rounder Moritz Boehringer in being a standout in Germany as well as France, the 6-foot-5 Dable also lined up interviews with the Cowboys, Chiefs, Jaguars, Lions, Seahawks, 49ers and Cardinals, Barker reports. But Umenyiora made sure the Giants received the first visit. Following that meeting, Dable cancelled the other prospective summits and signed with the Giants. “The things he was doing on the football field, you could tell they would translate,” Umenyiora told Barker. “He’s a tremendous athlete and once I saw his size, I thought he had a good chance. I don’t think it’s going to happen immediately, but I think he will develop into an outstanding receiver in the NFL. We’re not just talking about a special teams guy.”
  • The Eagles may be thin at inside linebacker beyond their starters, but CSNPhilly.com’s Dave Zangaro doesn’t anticipate a Jim SchwartzBrandon Spikes reunion. A quality run-stopper, Spikes played for Schwartz in 2014 with the Bills after four in New England, starting 49 games in five years. He’s been unattached since the Patriots released him in June 2015, and a hit-and-run incident resulted in Spikes being suspended for four games last season despite being unaffiliated with a team.
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick has a three-year offer on the table from the Jets that will pay him $12MM in 2016. Check out the latest on the back-and-forth between Fitz and Gang Green.

East Notes: T. Williams, Jets, Cowboys, Wayne

Washington offensive tackle Trent Williams isn’t worrying about his contract situation, focusing instead on giving Washington “one of the best years of my career” in the final season of his current deal, as he tells John Keim of ESPN.com.

Keim suggests that if the two sides don’t reach an agreement on an extension, the franchise tag will be an option for Washington, but Williams’ cap hit this year is $14.23MM, so franchising him would mean committing to a salary north of $17MM for 2016. As such, it’s in Washington’s best interest to work out a longer-term arrangement, and Williams should have plenty of leverage in those negotiations.

Let’s round up a few more notes from out of the NFL’s East divisions…

  • Speaking today to reporters, including Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports (Twitter links), Osi Umenyiora said he got an offer from a team yesterday, but didn’t want to continue his career if he wasn’t playing for the Giants. According to Garafolo, the Jets contacted Umenyiora yesterday, but didn’t make a formal contract offer — they were just checking to see whether he was really retiring. The veteran pass rusher paid an informal visit to the Jets earlier this year.
  • Although an earlier report suggested the Cowboys were poking around for cornerback help, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets that the team has no plans to add a corner in the wake of Orlando Scandrick‘s ACL injury. I’d expect the Cowboys to keep an eye on defensive backs who are cut next week, but it doesn’t sound like the club is in the market for a starter at all.
  • Field Yates of ESPN.com passes along some specific details on Reggie Wayne‘s one-year contract with the Patriots, tweeting that the wideout will earn a base salary of $1.1MM to go along with a $450K signing bonus. The pact also features $750K in per-game roster bonuses, plus additional bonuses if Wayne reaches 55 receptions ($250K) and 65 receptions (another $250K).

Osi Umenyiora Retires As A Giant

AUGUST 26, 9:00am: Umenyiora has officially announced his retirement, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com.

AUGUST 24, 1:44pm: Umenyiora will officially announce his retirement prior to the Giants’ Wednesday practice, according to Vacchiano (via Twitter).

JULY 27, 1:48pm: According to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News (via Twitter), Umenyiora will sign a one-day contract with the Giants “soon” in order to officially retire with the team.

1:37pm: Veteran pass rusher Osi Umenyiora hasn’t drawn a ton of interest on the free agent market this offseason, and it sounds as if the former Giant may return to his old team on a ceremonial contract before he retires. According to Adam Caplan and Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (Twitter link), the Giants and Umenyiora are discussing the possibility of a one-day contract for the 33-year-old, so he can retire as a Giant.

Umenyiora, selected in the second round of the 2003 draft by the Giants, has spent most of his NFL career in New York, playing a key role on the team’s two Super Bowl-winning squads in 2007 and 2011. The Troy product earned a pair of Pro Bowl nods, and had three seasons of double-digit sacks between 2005 and 2010. Umenyiora joined the Falcons for the 2013 season and played a part-time role in Atlanta, recording total 10 total sacks over the last two seasons.

Giants co-owner John Mara suggested back in March that he’d like to see Umenyiora retire as a Giant, though at the time I assumed that would mean signing him for perhaps one more year, rather than just one day. It’s not clear whether or not Umenyiora wants to continue his career, but even with Jason Pierre-Paul‘s status still up in the air, it doesn’t look like the veteran free agent will be joining the Giants for the 2015 season.

Community Tailgate: Best FA Besides Evan Mathis?

We’re still a few months away from the start of battles on the NFL gridiron, but there’s no offseason when it comes to debate amongst fans. This month, we launched a new series here at PFR that will be known as the Community Tailgate. What’s the Community Tailgate all about? Well, it’s pretty simple. Every weekday, we’ll highlight one of the top stories going on in the NFL. Then, in the comment section below, we want you to weigh in and let us know what you think.

Of course, while the debate may get spirited, we ask that it all stays respectful. If you need a reminder of our rules, please check out our commenting policy. Basically, we ask that you refrain from inappropriate language, personal insults, and attacks. Speaking of commenting: we’ve made it much easier to leave a comment here at Pro Football Rumors. You are no longer required to be a registered user – simply put in your name, email address, and comment and submit.

Today, we’re asking PFR readers to weigh in on the top remaining free agents. Excluding talented players with legal troubles like linebacker Brandon Spikes and defensive end Ray McDonald, former Eagles guard Evan Mathis is universally regarded as the best player without a deal at this time. Beyond Mathis, however, there’s hardly a clear cut silver medalist.

Over the weekend, PFR’s Dallas Robinson put together his list of the best available remaining free agents. After Mathis, he ranked tackle Jake Long No. 2, citing the former No. 1 overall pick’s talent level while also acknowledging his frustrating injury history. Tight end Jermaine Gresham, who underwent back surgery in March to repair a herniated disc, comes in at No. 3 thanks to his pass-catching ability and history of solid blocking. One-time fantasy darling James Jones is ranked fourth even though he has yet to put up the kind of numbers that he did with the Packers in 2012. Defensive end Dwight Freeney, 35, has remained productive despite his age and lack of sack totals, and was ranked No. 5. Safety Dawan Landry, guard Rob Sims, defensive lineman Red Bryant, center Chris Myers, and offensive lineman Anthony Collins rounded out the top ten. Honorable mention went to notables such as defensive end Osi Umenyiora, running back Pierre Thomas, safety Bernard Pollard, running back Ahmad Bradshaw, and quarterback Michael Vick.

Long could definitely pay dividends for a team willing to roll the dice on a low-cost deal and one could hardly be slammed for considering him the most intriguing free agent after Mathis. After all, in 2013, Long graded out as the seventh-best tackle in the league with a strong 22.5 overall score, based on Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required). However, he has torn his ACL in each of the past two seasons and in 2014, Pro Football Focus ranked him as just the No. 36 tackle out of 84 qualified players. Do you consider someone like Gresham, who was a focal point of the Bengals’ offense for multiple seasons, to be a better buy? Does that mantle belong to Freeney, who graded out as one of the best at his position in terms of pass-rush productivity? Or, would you cast your vote for someone else?

In the comment section below, let us know who you think is the second-best free agent on the board and why. 

Poll: Fate Of Three Big-Name Pass Rushers?

Between the three of them, they have accumulated 330 sacks over the course of 15 years. At different points in their careers, they were among the most-feared pass rushers in the league. But now, Dwight Freeney, 35, John Abraham, 37, and Osi Umenyiora, 33, are nearing the end of the line, and if they get another contract, it will probably be their last.

That is not to say that they have nothing left to offer. In his excellent profile of Freeney two months ago, PFR’s Dallas Robinson explained how the long-time Colt was able to effectively disrupt the passing game in 2014, his only full season with the Chargers. As Robinson wrote, Freeney did not post gaudy sack totals in San Diego, but he placed third among qualifying 3-4 OLBs with 40 quarterback hurries, and 14th with nine QB hits. Furthermore, Freeney has experience both with his hand in the ground and standing up, so he would not be limited to any one scheme.

Abraham, meanwhile, lost his 2014 season due to concussion-related issues, and doctors told him last September that he should sit out for at least a year. Our Luke Adams wrote at that time that Abraham was most likely headed towards retirement, but he did post 11.5 sacks for the Cardinals in 2013–earning his fifth Pro Bowl nod in the process–and he is consistently mentioned as an option for teams that may find themselves in need of a situational pass rusher as we get closer to the start of the regular season. So until Abraham officially calls it a career, we will continue to hear his name bandied about.

Umenyiora, the youngest of the group, recorded a mere 2.5 sacks in 16 games for the Falcons last year, and has not put up double-digit sacks since 2010. However, he did get 26 quarterback hurries and 6 quarterback hits in just 347 snaps, so it is clear he can still be effective in a situational role. Despite his limited playing time, he did rate as the 22nd-best 4-3 defensive end out of 59 eligible players, according to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required).

All of the above players, assuming they do not retire, are in line for a one-year deal with limited value. They will be called upon if a team suffers an injury to one of its pass rushers in training camp, or if a younger edge rusher fails to live up to expectations. And as they have shown, they can provide a boost to a club’s pass rushing game if deployed appropriately. They may not be the players they once were, but they may have enough left in the tank to help a contender get over the hump in 2015.

So what say you? Which of the three players above is most likely to suit up for an NFL team this season?

Giants Owner Talks FAs, Eli, JPP, Draft

Speaking to reporters today, Giants co-owner John Mara answered questions about his team’s approach to free agency, the contract status of a pair of the club’s most notable players, and a handful of other topics. Tom Rock of Newsday passed along several highlights from the session, so let’s round them up, with all links going to Twitter….

  • Acknowledging that the Giants “still have some holes to fill” on their roster, Mara said the team has done a good job so far in free agency.
  • Asked about the top free agents available, Mara admitted that the Giants made a big push for Devin McCourty. The club also inquired on Ndamukong Suh, but he was “a little too pricey” for the team’s liking. According to Mara, this year’s free agent class was a mediocre one, and many of the players who signed lucrative deals did so because a lot of teams had plenty of cap space. The Giants didn’t want to invest in those higher-end players at inflated prices.
  • No contract extension is imminent for Eli Manning, but “obviously something will be done at some point,” according to Mara.
  • The Giants co-owner would like to see Osi Umenyiora retire as a Giant, but Mara hasn’t spoken to coaches or GM Jerry Reese about signing the veteran pass rusher this year.
  • Mara would prefer to lock up Jason Pierre-Paul to a long-term contract, but is comfortable having JPP play out the 2015 season on the one-year franchise tag if necessary. The two sides have until July to work out a multiyear extension.
  • Wide receiver won’t be a top priority for the Giants early in this year’s draft, but the club won’t be averse to taking one if there’s value to be had.

Osi Umenyiora Informally Visited Jets

THURSDAY, 10:13am: GM Mike Maccagnan told reporters today, including Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (Twitter link), that Umenyiora simply stopped by the Jets’ facility for 10 minutes to say hi to Todd Bowles, and wasn’t in on an official visit.

WEDNESDAY, 7:15pm: Osi Umenyiora made a name for himself in New York, and it’s sounding like the defensive end may be returning to the Big Apple, albeit with a different team. According to Fox Sports’ Mike Garafolo (via Twitter), the 33-year-old was in New Jersey this afternoon to meet with the Jets. It’s uncertain whether the organization extended a contract offer, but the meeting at least indicates that the Jets are interested.

The former second-round pick spent nine seasons with the Giants, earning a pair of appearances on the All-Pro list and, most importantly, a pair of Super Bowl rings. He joined the Falcons on a two-year, $8.55MM in 2013, and the defensive end was productive during his first season in Atlanta. Umenyiora started 13 of 16 games for the Falcons, compiling 31 tackles, 7.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and his first career interception. Despite his efforts, he still earned a negative rating from Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

Umenyiora settled into more of a reserve roll in 2014, as the veteran failed to start a single regular season game. He still managed to play 347 snaps in 16 games, finishing the season with nine tackles and 2.5 sacks. The former Troy standout apparently settled into his backup role, as PFF ranked him 22nd among 59 4-3 defensive end candidates.

A reunion between Umenyiora and New York sounded like a possibility, but it wasn’t expected to be with the Jets. The veteran had previously expressed interest in finishing his career with the Giants.

NFC Notes: Brown, Mays, Lewis, Satele

With Ron Parker, Kendrick Lewis, Rahim Moore, and Antrel Rolle all signing deals over the past few days, the safety market has evaporated before the Giants’ eyes, writes Jordan Raanan of NJ.com.

Without many options on the roster or left in free agency, Raanan believes the team will have to do their best to re-sign veteran Stevie Brown, who played with the team in 2012 and 2014, missing the season in between. Brown intercepted eight passes in 2012, ties for second in the NFL that season.

Here are some other notes from around the NFC:

  • While discussing some of Washington’s options left in free agency, John Keim of ESPN forgot to mention that the team had interest in safety Taylor Mays (via Twitter). While there was mutual interest, there has been no official visit.
  • Cornerback Keenan Lewis now wants to retire with the Saints despite his previous demand at a guaranteed contract or a release, NOLA.com’s Katherine Terrell reports. New Orleans’ No. 1 corner also denied an NFL.com report that indicated the Saints are re-working his contract. Lewis has three years left on his deal with base salaries totaling $10.8MM.
  • The Vikings hosted former Buccaneer and Bengal Michael Johnson for a visit today, according to the Vikings’ public relations and communication department (via Twitter). The team could place Johnson at defensive end opposite Everson Griffen.
  • The Bears could be in the market for a veteran center, and Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune suggests that Samson Satele is a name to keep an eye on (via Twitter).
  • The Panthers have filled a number of holes this offseason, and with draft picks, injury replacements, and contract extensions still to be accounted for, general manager Dave Gettleman will likely have to wait another year before making a huge extension, writes Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. He does, however, give five names to watch as possible value signings the team could target this offseason, including Osi Umenyiora, Mathias Kiwanuka and Charles Tillman.
  • Holding the No. 1 draft choice isn’t the only perk of finishing with the league’s worst record. The Buccaneers hold the No. 1 waiver priority thanks to their 2-14 record last year, and they intend to capitalize on it, reports the Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud. “It’s a huge deal,” Bucs general manager Jason Licht told Stroud. “Bigger than people realize.” The Texans signed three players with their No. 1 position last season.

Sam Robinson contributed to this report.

Tuesday Roundup: Cassel, Winston, Peterson

Vikings GM Rick Spielman said that nothing definitive has been decided about bringing Matt Cassel back to the team, but Spielman was complimentary of his veteran signal-caller when discussing him earlier this week. “We went through our process, we evaluated all of our players,” Spielman said, according to Brian Hall of FOXSportsNorth.com. “We looked at everything from what they bring to our football team, in the locker room, off the field, what they bring to us on the field. But we also have to look at where they’re at from a standpoint of their contract, where we’re at from a cap standpoint…Matt’s done a great job. Came in and has won some games when he had to play. He’s a great locker-room guy. Matt has a lot of value to us.” Cassel is signed for the 2015 season at a salary of $4.15MM, and he’ll count $4.75MM against the cap.

Now for some more links from around the league on this Tuesday evening:

  • Tahir Whitehead filled in capably for Stephen Tulloch when Tulloch went out last season, and that leaves the Lions with an interesting choice this offseason, as Kyle Meinke of MLive.com writes. Detroit could continue to roll with Whitehead at middle linebacker and carve out some space by parting ways with Tulloch. The 30-year-old is slated to count $5.8MM against the cap next season. Whitehead, meanwhile, costs just $713K.
  • The consensus around the league is that the Buccaneers will draft Jameis Winston with the No. 1 overall pick, according to a tweet from the NFL Network (citing its own Ian Rapoport).
  • The Colts are in dire need of a running back, and Mike Wells of ESPN.com writes that the team will be closely monitoring the Adrian Peterson situation. If Peterson and the Vikings part ways, Indianapolis GM Ryan Grigson, a noted risk-taker, may pull the trigger.
  • Falcons defensive end Osi Umenyiora has no plans to retire, writes Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. Umenyiora, 33, will become a free agent on March 10, and he said he would like to play at least one more season. If he could choose, Umenyiora stated that he would like to finish his career where it started: with the Giants.
  • Packers fullback John Kuhn is one of the last members of a dying breed, but the impending free agent reaffirmed his importance to the Green Bay offense in 2014, earning first team All-Pro honors for the first time in his career. As Weston Hodkiewicz of PackersNews.com writes, there is mutual interest in Kuhn’s return to the Packers.
  • Former Australian rugby star Jarryd Hayne, who has garnered interest from at least a dozen teams, is expected to sign with a club this week, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (writing for the National Football Post).
  • Bill Williamson of ESPN.com believes middle linebacker Nate Irving could be a fit with the Raiders if the impending free agent is not re-signed by the Broncos.
  • Parys Haralson, who signed a one-year deal with the Saints in February, hopes to end his career in New Orleans, writes Katherine Terrell of the Times-Picayune.
  • Jason Fitzerald of OverTheCap.com provides the Panthers‘ salary cap outlook for the 2015 season.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.


New York Notes: Umenyiora, Giants, Jets

No one is immune from a bad fantasy beat, including NFL players themselves. This week, Giants tight end Larry Donnell opted to bench himself in favor of Vernon Davis, as Art Stapleton of The Bergen Record writes. If Donnell had enough confidence in himself, he would have been the beneficiary of his career-best performance that included seven catches for 54 yards and three touchdowns and he wouldn’t have lost by 15 points. They say you should always start your studs, but there are always exceptions. And besides, Donnell himself is looking like a stud performer himself. Here’s more from exit 16W..

  • Falcons veteran Osi Umenyiora wouldn’t come right out and say it, but it sounds like he misses being with the Giants, Tom Rock of Newsday writes. “I think I did what was best for me and the Giants did what was best for them,” he said. “That’s pretty much the only way I can answer that. Do I wish I was still there? Who knows what would have happened if I was still there? Nobody knows, so I can’t look back at that with regret and I’m sure they don’t look back at it with regret either.”
  • Jets coach Rex Ryan clarified a comment made earlier in the week and explained that any decision to bench a player mid-game would be his to make, writes Jane McManus of ESPNNewYork.com. Ryan’s previous comments indicated that an in-game change like, say, benching Geno Smith for free agent pickup Michael Vick, would take the input of GM John Idzik.
  • Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com (on Twitter) has the goods on the Jets‘ most recent signings. Wide receivers T.J. Graham and Chris Owusu got identical two-year, $1.23MM contracts with no money guaranteed. Fullback John Conner‘s one-year deal is worth $730K and is also non-guaranteed.