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Kurtzberg’s Corner: Giants Take Care of Business at Mini-Camp

The Giants held OTA’s last week and came away with two important signings: First, they extended the contract of head coach Tom Coughlin for three years and then they renegotiated their deal with defensive lineman Osi Umenyiora to at least keep him happy until the end of the 2012 season.

Signing Coughlin was a no-brainer and completely expected. Coach Coughlin has now won two Super Bowls with the Giants in the past four years, matching the number of Super Bowls won by the legendary Bill Parcells.

Coughlin is now under contract through the end of the 2014 season. It’s uncanny how many fans and members of the media were calling for Coughlin’s firing last season, but when the Giants got healthy and hot late in the regular season and went on a run in the playoffs; Coughlin was in the driver’s seat if he wanted to return.

“From where I sit, I couldn’t ask for more in a head coach,” Giants GM Jerry Reese said. Coughlin is a tough coach who has a reputation as a disciplinarian. But one of the best things about the former Jaguars head man is that he has evolved and grown during his time with Big Blue. Early in his tenure with the Giants, some of the players thought Coughlin was a little too tough, but he learned to adjust his style a little bit without compromising who he is and the results have been beneficial to both Coughlin and the Giants organization.

“Tom is the right person in the right job at the right time,” said co-owner Steve Tisch. “I just really appreciate how our players respond to his leadership, and obviously our organization has benefited tremendously because of the relationship Tom has with his players.”

The signing of Umenyiora was more surprising and is also vital to the team’s success. Osi was entering the last year of a seven-year-contract and his unhappiness with the deal has been an issue for the past few years.

In a conversation shortly before the NFL Draft, Umenyiora expressed his frustration with his present situation but added that he understood that the Giants had other, younger players who they would probably make a higher priority of signing then him. He also wondered how much longer he could continue to “take one for the team.”

In the end, the Giants lowered Osi’s base salary but gave him more incentives and added a signing bonus that keeps both the club and the player happy.  It is also likely that this will be Umenyiora’s last year in a Giants uniform.

Osi was grateful for the new deal. “They stepped up to the plate and they didn’t have to,” Umenyiora admitted. “They could have just allowed me to play out this last year, which in essence I am doing. But they definitely, definitely showed me some love.”

The Giants are a stronger team with Umenyiora in the lineup. Along with Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck, he gives them three strong pass rushers on the defensive line, a threesome that few teams can hope to match. When the Giants put pressure on opposing quarterbacks, their defense is among the most effective in the league. When they don’t, they are very average.

During the regular season, Osi had nine sacks in nine games and added 3.5 sacks in the team’s four postseason games. The defending Super Bowl champs were 9-4 last year including playoffs with Umenyiora in the lineup and just 4-3 without him.

The former 2nd round pick out of Troy State will be 31 this November and may have one big contract left in his NFL career.

By reworking Umenyiora’s deal, the Giants ensured that all three of their top pass rushers will be entering camp healthy and happy. The key now becomes keeping them all healthy and productive if the G-men hope to repeat in 2012.

3 comments on “Kurtzberg’s Corner: Giants Take Care of Business at Mini-Camp

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