Tuesday Toss: 2022 MVP Osgar Up In Air About Return To New York

April 9, 2024
By Evan Lepler

The New York Empire already parted ways with the reigning UFA MVP

Might they now be losing the services of another superstar too?

Ryan Osgar, who won the league’s Most Valuable Player Award in 2022, is seriously contemplating taking a year off and not suiting up for the Empire in 2024. Reached last week, Osgar acknowledged that he has not been attending preseason practices.

“Just not feeling excited or motivated for the season, so I’m not gonna force myself to play,” Osgar said. “Excited to fill my time with other things, but I reserve the right to regret my decision and come back and play at any point.”

This is not quite the bombshell of Jeff Babbitt’s departure, but if Osgar follows through with his current plan to step away from the team, it would clearly be another tough dose of preseason news for the two-time reigning UFA champions. New York carries a 30-game winning streak into their season opener against Montreal on April 27, with one more victory making it the longest streak in league history. 

Osgar does remain under contract with the team and has been communicating with Empire leadership about his status. 

“We have been proceeding as if Ryan is not playing with us this season,” confirmed New York GM Matt Stevens. “I have spoken with Ryan, and we remain on great terms. We always will do whatever to support the members of the Empire, both on and off the field.”

It is arguably a bigger loss than Babbitt, considering Osgar’s usage and skillset. Last year, Osgar led the UFA with 76 assists and finished third in the league with 35 completed hucks. He has also led the Empire in total yards in all three of his seasons with the team, in which he has played in 42 of a possible 45 games, suffering only three losses along the way. 

Without Osgar, an even heavier burden will fall upon Jack Williams and Ben Jagt to orchestrate the Empire offense. It’s also likely that Oliver Chartock, who filled in as needed on the New York O-line last season, becomes a more consistent contributor. Additionally, newcomer Liam Haberfield, who showed tremendous promise as a rookie with Atlanta last year, will presumably absorb many of Osgar’s on-field responsibilities.

Obviously, even without Osgar and Babbitt, the Empire are still extraordinarily talented. Frankly, it feels silly and absurd to recognize that New York can lose the league’s last two MVPs and still be considered the overall favorite to win another title. That’s just how special the Empire have been over the past couple years, having built a stockpile of playmakers able to withstand the loss of both the league’s best hybrid hucker and the top buzzer-beating receiver. 

“From the team standpoint, it’s business as usual,” said Stevens. “We have depth, star power, and buy-in up and down the roster. Our philosophies have not changed, and we are working every practice to get better.”

But along with this optimism, the team’s margin for error has undeniably been diminished too. Injuries or absences could absolutely create unfamiliar lineups, and the Empire’s reign atop the UFA certainly feels more tenuous today than it did a few weeks ago.

If Osgar does change his mind and decides to play, he would be eagerly welcomed back.

“There is no need to plan for a potential return because his reintegration would be seamless,” said Stevens. “His throwing dominance over the past two seasons, from an aggression and efficiency standpoint, is historically unmatched. If Ryan decides he wants to play, we would welcome him back and I have no doubt he would return in game condition and fully committed, as he always has been.”

This is far from the first time we’ve seen an ultimate player make this type of move, choosing to prioritize other aspects of life beyond the field. Sometimes, it can be a reinvigorating break. Other times, it might mean that a player is done. 

As for what will happen with Osgar, only time will tell.

“I’m taking some time off right this very second to figure out what I wanna do,” Osgar said. “Maybe a year off is just what the doctor ordered. Maybe I’ll just be done. I don’t know.”

“I still think the Empire are the team to beat.”