Former Giants star defensive end Osi Umenyiora will bring needed experience to the Falcons, who finished 24th in overall defense last season, 21st against the run and 23rd against the pass out of 32 NFL teams.
The Atlanta Falcons and free agent defensive end Osi Umenyiora late Wednesday agreed on a two-year deal bringing an end to the 31-year-old’s career with the New York Giants.
The deal is worth $8.5 million with a maximum value of $12 million and $5 million guaranteed, according to ESPN.com.
“There was nothing better than to be able to win (in New York),” Umenyiora, who lives in Atlanta, said in a radio interview this week. “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.”
Atlanta was looking to replace John Abraham, who was a salary-cap casualty.
Umenyiora spent 10 years with the Giants, though he sat out the 2008 season following knee surgery. He was a two-time Pro Bowl selection and a two-time Super Bowl champion during his time in New York. In 2010, he forced 10 fumbles, an NFL record that was matched last season by the Chicago Bears’ Charles Tillman.
Umenyiora started four of 16 games for New York in 2012, registering 43 tackles, six sacks and two forced fumbles. For his career, he has 75 sacks and 32 forced fumbles.
RODGERS, PACKERS NEARING MASSIVE DEAL: Franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers is moving closer to a long-term deal with the Green Bay Packers.
The sides are working out an extension that would make Rodgers the highest-paid player in NFL history, league sources told ESPN. Such a deal could net Rodgers an average of $25 million per year.
Rodgers, the Super Bowl XLV MVP in a win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, is signed through 2014, the final year of a six-year, $65 million agreement from October 2008. He’s scheduled to earn $9.25 million in 2013, and $10.5 million in 2014.
His new contract is predicted to be worth more than the six-year, $120.6 million deal signed by Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, as well as Drew Brees and Peyton Manning.
The 29-year-old Rodgers passed for 4,295 yards and 39 touchdowns last season while leading the Packers to their fourth straight playoff appearance.
NFL TRYING TO HIDE CTE?: One NFL doctor who participated in a study on degenerative brain disease in retired players suggested removing a mention of CTE from a fact-finding sheet, according to a New York Times report.
The doctor, a member of the NFL’s head, neck and spine committee, wasn’t identified. He said CTE — a degenerative brain disease thought to be caused by repeated head trauma — should be omitted because it was “not fully understood,” because it wasn’t cited on death certificates of the retired players in the study, and thus lacked “epidemiological validity.”
Researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which compiled the fact sheet, rejected the recommendation. Independent medical experts said such a request was inappropriate and not in line with existing research.
“That’s what bugged me the most,” Jeffrey Kutcher, a neurologist and the director of Michigan NeuroSport at the University of Michigan, told the Times. “It’s a huge jump and it goes completely away from what the Niosh study showed.”
According to a memorandum obtained by the Times, most of the suggestions involved simplifying the information so players without a scientific background could understand the findings.
CTE is a degenerative brain disease closely related to Alzheimer’s. It has been found in dozens of deceased football players, leading to concern about the sport’s potential long-term effects.
TITANS STAR RB JOHNSON NOT HAPPY TEAMED SIGNED RB GREENE: Chris Johnson campaigned for the Tennessee Titans to be aggressive during free agency, and is pleased with their efforts, but got more than he bargained for.
The Titans signed eight free agents, but one was veteran running back Shonn Greene to back up Johnson, who basically has been the running game since coming to Tennessee.
Greene signed a three-year deal for $10 million and the Titans said he will be a third-down option in addition to backing up Johnson.
“I have never been a big fan of the two-back system, so I don’t know how we plan on using him,” said Johnson, who has not shared the rushing load since he was a rookie in 20008 and split time with Lendale White. “I’m not afraid of competition, but I was thinking we’d maybe get a draft pick for the other back. And you don’t give a guy that kind of money to be just a goal-line guy and in tough-yardage situations. So we’ll see what happens.”
Johnson, who will earn $10 million in his sixth season with the Titans, rushed for 1,243 yards on 276 carries last year.
In his rookie year, he gained 1,228 yards on 251 carries, a career low, while White had 773 yards on 200 carries.
“I’ll just roll with it,” said Johnson, who averaged 17.25 carries per game last season. “Of course, I don’t want to carry the ball 30 or 40 times a game.”
No running back other than Johnson has had more than 64 carries in a season for the Titans since 2008.