The New York Giants need to be prepared for life without defensive end Owa Odighizuwa, regardless of his future NFL plans.
The New York Giants have a long history of building a defense around a strong pass rush, which is why the club selecting defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft made sense. Odighizuwa, on paper, was a worthwhile investment, an impressive physical presence hoped to be a future lineup mainstay in time.
Now, roughly two years later, it seems Odighizuwa may be nothing more than a wasted draft pick. The 25-year-old shockingly took to his personal Twitter page this past Monday (April 3) to announce he was taking some time “to get away from the game” and that this matter had been “on my mind for a while.” Odighizuwa also apologized, although he didn’t specifically mention the Giants or fans in this apology.
Whenever an athlete appears to make such an important announcement via a social media platform, one cannot help but question the validity of the statements. For what it’s worth, it has been almost an entire day since Odighizuwa’s alleged Twitter storm, and neither he nor anybody associated with the player has claimed his account was hacked or that his posts are inaccurate or flippant in nature. If Odighizuwa isn’t stepping away from football, somebody needs to immediately tell him to explain himself.
Per SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano, Odighizuwa taking a sabbatical is a surprise to the Giants and to at least “a couple of Odighizuwa’s teammates.” Assuming Vacchiano’s report is accurate, this is concerning because it indicates Odighizuwa made such an important decision without discussing it with higher-ups within the organization such as head coach Ben McAdoo. As James Kratch of NJ.com explained, Odighizuwa has until June before he is contractually obligated to report to the Giants, so there’s no rush for anybody to make an official statement on this matter.
With that said, the Giants cannot simply hope Odighizuwa changes his mind at some point over the next two months. His Twitter activity on the first Monday of April is, until further notice, another negative on what quickly became a disappointing NFL resume. Truth be told, there was no guarantee Odighizuwa would have a roster spot waiting for him at the start of September. He may even be doing the Giants a favor by voluntarily walking away.
Injuries shortened Odighizuwa’s rookie campaign, as he played in only four regular season games in 2015. While he appeared in 14 contests this past season, he fell down the depth chart before a hamstring problem ended his campaign early. Per Pro-Football-Reference.com, Odighizuwa failed to register a single sack during his first two NFL seasons. According to Vacchiano, the Giants hold Odighizuwa’s rights for two more years, but the cap hit on his rookie contract is minimal as explained by the previously mentioned Kratch.
Following New York’s 38-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Wild Card Sunday, Dan Duggan of NJ.com wrote about what was to be an important offseason for Odighizuwa’s Big Blue career. It seemed, at the time, the second-year pro was ready to tackle any and all challenges:
“It’s real important for me,” Odighizuwa told NJ Advance Media. “That’s how I’m approaching it, that it’s kind of do-or-die in terms of my preparation and getting ready. You have to exhaust all of your resources into training properly and getting ready for the year. Really pouring everything you have into preparation.”
Maybe Odighizuwa merely had a rough start to his spring and opened a Twitter app when he should’ve known better. Perhaps he’s more banged-up than we thought this past January. Whatever is going on, it’s clear to an outside observer the young man’s heart and mind are away from the Giants and, it would seem, away from playing football anytime soon.
The Giants entered Lambeau Field for that playoff showdown with the Packers a trio of victories away from a trip to the Super Bowl, and New York is possibly the most “win-now” team in the NFL. Club executives, members of the coaching staff and fellow players cannot afford to spend time trying to sell the team’s mission to somebody who obviously isn’t all-in on the cause.
Losing Odighizuwa for several months, an entire season or forevermore doesn’t change much for the 2017 Giants outside of who the team may consider selecting in the second half of this month’s draft. The Giants could and should offer any needed assistance to a player who is still a member of the team’s family, but all should also assume Odighizuwa is no longer an active member of the roster.