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Suggs down, Ravens should jump at chance to get Umenyiora out of N.Y.

by | CBSSports.com Senior NFL Columnist

Umenyiora offers the same things as Suggs: big plays off the edge. (Getty Images)  
Umenyiora offers the same things as Suggs: big plays off the edge. (Getty Images)  

With Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs sidelined indefinitely, the Baltimore Ravens' Super Bowl chances just took a hit -- unless, of course, they somehow find the right guy to replace him.

But they can, and I know how: By making a phone call.

Yep, if I were general manager Ozzie Newsome I'd be on speed dial with the New York Giants' Jerry Reese, making him an offer he couldn't refuse for disgruntled defensive end Osi Umenyiora. Umenyiora is in the last year of his contract, and he doesn't appear to have a future with the Giants beyond this season.

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Yeah, I know that Reese dismissed Umenyiora's latest complaint with him as "offseason chatter" and said he holds no grudges against the former Pro Bowl star, but let's cut to the chase, people: The club didn't give Umenyiora an extension last year, and it hasn't given him an extension this year.

Moreover, it just gave one to linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka, and draw your own conclusions. I have, and what that tells me is that Osi Umenyiora is not in the Giants' long-term future.

That's not exactly a revelation. The guy was replaced in the starting lineup last season by Jason Pierre-Paul who, it just so happened, emerged as one of the league's most talented, most disruptive and most productive defensive performers.

JPP is 23 and in his third season; Umenyiora turns 31 this year and is in his tenth season. That could make Umenyiora expendable, and if I'm Newsome I find out.

I mean, he just lost his best defensive player -- presumably for the entire season -- and while I know the Ravens are lining up candidates to replace him, including Paul Kruger, Sergio Kindle and rookie Courtney Upshaw, tell me which of them rushes the passer like Umenyiora.

I'll spare you the trouble: None.

In his last 57 games, Umenyiora has 40.5 sacks. He had 14.5 one season, 13 in another, and six sacks in one game. His average of .71 sacks per game from 2007-11 is tied for fifth best in the NFL with Philadelphia's Trent Cole and Denver's Elvis Dumvervil and ranks behind only DeMarcus Ware, Jared Allen, Mario Williams and James Harrison.

But that's not all: In 2010 he set a league record with 10 forced fumbles and twice in his career has four recoveries. I think you get the idea: Umeyiora knows how to get to the passer, which was Suggs' strength, and he knows how to get to the football.

So go after him, Baltimore. Granted, the Ravens play a 3-4, but Umeyiora would be a stand-up linebacker who does what Suggs does -- namely, rush the quarterback. He can do that out of a three-point stance, or he can do it upright. It doesn't matter. The results are the same. Only where he does it as a situational guy with the Giants, he could be a starter with Baltimore -- provided, of course, the Giants are interested in dealing.

"All of our options are always open," Reese said.

If I'm Newsome, I find out what that means, and I find out now.

The Ravens inquired last season when Umeyiora was stewing, and nothing worked out ... with them or anyone else, and one reason was compensation. The Giants wanted a first-round pick. One year later, the price can only go down, basically because everyone knows Umenyiora is unhappy and isn't going back to Big Blue in 2013.

Trust me, the Giants know, too. But they also know they can keep him around another year at a relatively cheap price ($3.975 million) and call on him when the down and distance demand it.

But why would they? Pierre-Paul has supplanted him. Umenyiora is miserable and could be a distraction waiting to happen. The Giants don't seem interested in re-signing him, and he doesn't seem interested in re-signing with them. Plus, New York could gain something of value for him now instead of having him walk in a year.

Look, I think Umenyiora is an important part of the Giants' pass rush, too, but the club doesn't think he's important enough to keep happy ... or to keep around for more than another season. So why string this thing out? Yet it could happen, and I guarantee that, if it does, there will be a repeat of the friction we witnessed last year between Umeyiora and the organization.

The Giants didn't waver in 2011, and they made their point. They held firm, and Umenyiora didn't get an extension. Moreover, he returned to the club and was an important part of the push to a Super Bowl down the stretch. But that was then, and this is now ... and now the Giants don't need another aggravation.

That's why Newsome should be on the phone. Tell the Giants why peddling Umenyiora could be addition by subtraction and make them motivated sellers. Not only would they gain a draft pick for an unhappy camper who's a short-timer anyway; they'd be rid of a potential headache.

And the Ravens? They'd find what they need. They'd find an ideal replacement for Terrell Suggs.


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