The negotiations with Osi Umenyiora seemed to drag on for months, though it took up only a week. That's how free agency and fan eagerness tend to distort time.
A lot of the focus in the coming days will be on who got the better end of this deal, as is the case with almost any free agent signing, but in this case I'd argue both sides made out pretty well. Let's take a closer look how bot the Falcons and Osi benefited from this deal.
In a weak market for free agent defensive ends, Osi got a deal that could potentially pay him up to $12 million over two years. While a lot of that is undoubtedly tied up in roster bonuses and incentives, that's a pretty sweet deal for a guy highly motivated to prove he can still bring the heat as a pass rusher.
The two year deal means that Osi will be back on the market by (at the latest) age 33, giving him a chance to grab one more decent deal before he rides off into the sunset. If he has a poor year, he might have some job security with the Falcons, or a chance to chase a new contract. If he has a great year, he'll get some nice bonuses and be in a good position to land that last contract, with the Falcons or someone else.
It's a smart move for a 31-year-old guy who might have languished in free agency otherwise.
This was a team in desperate need of help for its pass rush. The fact that they got Osi for two years, giving themselevs some wiggle room if he's excellent or terrible, is a plus. Guaranteeing him just $5 million, with the cap hit probably spread out cleverly over two years, is also a victory.
It was abundantly clear the Falcons couldn't and/or wouldn't chase a high-profile player like Cliff Avril or Elvis Dumervil, so Osi was arguably the best option available on the open market in terms of pure pass-rushing acumen, and he was certainly younger than either John Abraham or Dwight Freeney.
There's no guarantees Osi will work out in Atlanta, but the Falcons have gotten him on a pact that they can escape from if he has a rough year, and one they'll happily accept if he excels.
One more note: I know the contract negotiations seemed like they stretched out forever, but that's not quite accurate.
What many of us fail to understand is that contract negotiations do not happen in a day. Steven Jackson blindsided us all a bit, so we forget that the team and Jackson's representation likely spend quite some time hammering out details. So it was with Osi, who undoubtedly wanted either a fat multi-year contract or a one-year, prove-it deal he could use to grab big money on the open market in 2014. If the Falcons do chase any other free agents, it will be worth remembering that virtually no contracts are negotiated in 24 hours.
Hit me with your thoughts on this contract and Osi.