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Atlanta Native Umenyiora Wants to Win Ring at 'Home'

1:36 PM, Mar 28, 2013   |    comments
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New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora (72) recovers a fumble by Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (10) in the 1st half at Giants Stadium.Mandatory Credit: Aristide Economopoulos/The Star-Ledger via USA TODAY Sports

Mike Garafolo, USA TODAY Sports

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Umenyiora signed to a two-year, $8.5 million deal that could be worth a maximum of $12.2 million and will pay him $5 million in 2013.
  • Falcons needed edge player after cutting John Abraham and Ray Edwards over past six months
  • With the Falcons, Umenyiora is returning home: He's an Atlanta-area resident and former Troy University star
Osi Umenyiora could not have dreamed of a better place for his new NFL beginning, remaining in the Atlanta area he's called home for 14 years in a bid to help put the Falcons over the top a year after they came up just short in the NFC Championship Game.

"I wanted to help push this team over the proverbial edge if I can," Umenyiora said during his introductory news conference Thursday at Falcons headquarters in Flowery Branch, Ga. "I wouldn't even allow myself to dream this big. It was almost too good to be true. ... I'm just happy to be in this situation, and I'm going to give my heart to this city."

Umenyiora agreed to terms Wednesday night on a two-year, $8.5 million deal that could be worth a maximum of $12.2 million and will pay him $5 million in 2013.

"This is a situation where I feel I can really come in here and help this football team," Umenyiora said. "It had nothing to do with money. I just want to go out there and perform at the high level I know I'm capable of."

So, yeah, Umenyiora carries a chip on his shoulder, wanting to show the New York Giants that they made a mistake by moving on from a man who gave them 75 sacks over a 10-year period. He wants to prove he is still an elite pass rusher at age 31 after being reduced to a part-time role last season with the Giants when he produced six sacks, 43 tackles and two forced fumbles.

"I'm a guy of tremendous pride, and I would have liked to be on the field more, but it is what it is," Umenyiora said. "They had three or four great pass rushers. I'm just fortunate to come here."

The two-time Super Bowl winner was a second-round pick out of Troy in 2003. Umenyiora set a league record with 10 forced fumbles in 2010 and has 32 strips during his career.

"This is a dream situation for me, (having) a home here from the area. To come to a team like this is just a blessing," Umenyiora said. ''I've always followed them."

And his son Tijani, 5, has always been a Falcons fan, something Umenyiora admitted "was weird."

Umenyiora said he had other opportunities but after meeting with Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff his mind "was set on coming here. I was just thrilled with the way they were."

The Falcons craved a pass-rush boost after releasing disappointing Ray Edwards during the 2012 season then cutting aging and expensive John Abraham on March 1.

"There's a lot of tremendous leadership on this team already. We're going to find a way to get this done,'' said Umenyiora, who joins veterans Tony Gonzalez, Matt Ryan, Steven Jackson and Asante Samuel for a franchise still seeking its first championship.

"We're going to definitely do everything we can. The (coaches), the general manager, the ownership, they have done their job, put together a fantastic group of talented people," said Umenyiora.

"It's going to be on the players to see if we're going to be able to make that happen."

***

Follow Jim Corbett on Twitter @ByJimCorbett


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