It was never a matter of if this deal was going to get done, but rather when. Now at last, the Atlanta Falcons and defensive end Osi Umenyiora have agreed to terms on a two-year contract, first reported by Fox Sports Jay Glazer. This is a huge step for the Falcons who were in need of help on the defensive line, particularly in creating a pass rush.
Umenyiora has spent his entire nine-year career with the New York Giants, and helped anchor their defense to two Super Bowl championships, although not without a few road bumps and a fair share of run-ins with the local media. But the Atlanta resident will certainly be a welcome addition, and top-notch replacement for the now departed John Abraham.
In an interview with local radio hosts (and former Falcons) Chuck Smith and Jamie Dukes, Umenyiora talked about the differences in coming from New York to play in Atlanta.
“New York fans definitely expect a lot out of you because of their history,” Umenyiora said. “There was nothing better than to be able to win there. The only thing I can think of that would be better than being able to win in New York would be to be able to win here in Atlanta. We’ll see how that plays out. Hopefully, it works out in a positive direction.”
Before striking a deal with Umenyiora, the Falcons had 58 players under contract, but under NFL salary cap rules, you only count the first 51 players, which means that by rule, the Falcons were $6.2 million under the league salary cap. That will give a good indication of the size of the two-year deal the team will be giving Umenyiora.
One thing is clear, Umenyiora is going to be paid to specifically excel in one area–pressure and sack opposing quarterbacks. As he is currently the 10th leading sack man among all active players, it looks like the Falcons should get what they are paying for. In nine seasons with the Giants, Umenyiora racked up 75 sacks, hitting double-digits in the stat during the 2005 (14.5), 2007 (13) and 2010 (11.5) seasons.
Although this is a big acquisition for Atlanta, it’s certainly not going to be the end of the Falcons’ search for a more effective pass rush, but it is a good start. Training camp will tell the better story of who else the Falcons have or possibly need to go get.