After the release of defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka, the New York Giants part ways with one of the more selfless and versatile players that the club has had under the Tom Coughlin-era. The move was made to regain $4.825 in salary cap-space as the Giants head deeper into this offseason. Kiwanuka put up 2.5 sacks and 28 total tackles during the 2014 regular season.
"“The thing that has always impressed me about Kiwi is how serious he is about the game,” Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said after the Kiwanuka-release.“He was always prepared and always in outstanding condition and played very hard. And he had some nasty in him. I always felt like you could count on certain things from him: eight [or] nine sacks, harass the quarterback, and you could move him around, inside, outside. He is dependable, reliable and there is no question about his professionalism. His character and professionalism and serious approach to the game will be missed.”(Dan Graziano, ESPN NY)"
Kiwanuka, at this moment, was the third-remaining player on the current Giants roster who was on the Super Bowl XLII Championship-winning team with quarterback Eli Manning and long snapper Zak DeOssie being the last two.
The Giants selected Kiwanuka 32nd overall in the 2006 NFL Draft out of Boston College after trading down into the spot of the then-champion Pittsburgh Steelers. He had a very productive college career when he posted 37.5 sacks and 245 total tackles.
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Kiwanuka started his NFL career at his natural position at defensive end. In 2007, linebacker Carlos Emmons departed the team and that brought major question to the position group. Going into that season the Giants were loaded with many bodies at defensive end with a young Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, and current Hall of Famer Michael Strahan.
Throughout the prior offseason, first-year general manager Jerry Reese insisted that the club had linebackers when skepticism rose. Then lo-and-behold, Kiwanuka won the starting strongside linebacker position during camps.
During the 2007 season, Kiwanukas season was cut short due to breaking his leg during a game at the Detroit Lions. The following season in 2008 he had returned to defensive end due to a season-ending knee injury to Umenyiora during a preseason game against the New York Jets. The club had also lost Strahan to retirement.
Jun 18, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants defensive end
(94) during New York Giants mini camp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Through Kiwanuka’s career, he became known as the one to play that “Joker” role in defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s 2007 and 2008 defenses. That role allowed Kiwanuka to return to playing on the defensive line during third-down passing downs when an aerial attack was expected from opposing offenses.
His versatility allowed Tuck to play along the inside at the defensive tackle position during those situations — allowing the club to play their best pass-rushers at a time when they needed it most.
Kiwanuka is definitely on the downside of his NFL career as he will be 32 years old in less than a couple of weeks. He was a part of two Super Bowl-winning teams in New York. While it is unknown regarding what sort of production that Kiwanuka can still put up, he still brings a presence and the ability to mentor a team with young talent.