Posted May 08, 2013

Victor Cruz contract complicated by Hakeem Nicks’ future

New York Giants
Victor Cruz holds the Giants record for most single-season receiving yards (1,536). (Mel Evans/AP)

Victor Cruz holds the Giants record for most single-season receiving yards (1,536). (Mel Evans/AP)

Since the deadline for restricted free agent Victor Cruz to sign an offer sheet with another team passed weeks ago, the Giants’ wide receiver has limited options left on the table.

He can sign the one-year, $2.879 million contract tender that Giants placed on him to prevent him from leaving as an unrestricted free agent. Cruz also could say yes to the more lucrative, longer-term offer New York has presented him (reportedly $8 million per year with at least $15 million guaranteed). And, of course, Cruz could go the holdout route — he needs to play just six games, a la Vincent Jackson in 2010, to accrue a year toward free agency, thus potentially giving him unrestricted freedom next year.

Giants GM John Mara knows all the scenarios — including the fourth, doomsday possibility of Cruz sitting out the entire 2013 season, though that would simply push his current contract onto 2014. So, it’s not surprising to hear him say that the situation is under control, as he did Monday on the NFL Network.

“I’m pretty confident that we’ll end up reaching a deal with [Cruz],” Giants co-owner John Mara told NFL Network’s “NFL AM” on Tuesday. “This is not that atypical a situation. Player contracts, particularly with star players like Victor, can tend to drag on from time to time. I think we’ll get it done.

“This is the right place for him to play. He’s a star in this area, he’s an important part of our team, and I think we’ll eventually get a deal done, but it’s just a process that you have to go through. And we’re going through it right now. There’s communication, and it’s slow but steady, and I think at some point we’ll reach a deal.”

The Giants can ill-afford to lose the 26-year-old Cruz, who came out of nowhere to produce an 82-catch 2012, then followed it up with 86 receptions and 10 touchdowns last season. They dodged a bit of a bullet, then, as the other 31 teams in the league opted against trying to pry Cruz away from New York.

All indications (including that he has not signed yet) are that Cruz wants to earn more, and perhaps a great deal more, than the current $8 million-per-year offer he’s believed to have. Just seven wide receivers currently make more than $10 million per season on average.

The other issue at play here for New York, aside from being somewhat limited by the salary cap, is that Hakeem Nicks has just one year left on his current contract. The Giants might opt to use the franchise tag on Nicks after the 2013 season, and the receiver price tag climbed north of $10.5 million this year. So, if the Giants plan to keep Nicks around, they need to ensure that they have the financial wiggle room necessary to do so.

Which brings us back to one of the topics of the early offseason: how the Giants are prioritizing their top two receivers.

For now, it appears that New York would prefer to get both Nicks and Cruz locked up for years to come. However, with Nicks’ situation unresolved, are the Giants willing or able to up the ante on their offer to Cruz?

If not, this standoff may continue on through training camp and possibly into the regular season. Mara may sound the alarm bell a little more loudly at that point.

21 comments
ad2
ad2

People say that to much emphasis is put on Cruz but what most don't understand is that Cruz was our most productive receiver for the past two years.  Everyone thinks that because of Eli's Greatness that it doesn't matter.  The last I checked the giants did not make the playoffs last year.  Yes you can blame a lot of it on the defense but Eli did not have one of his best seasons either not by far so I guess everyone is not expendable.  The NY Giants can roll the dice if they one too and let Cruz sign his tender but it will be their worst mistake that they have made in a while.  


John4
John4

Beware Giants.  I see a "Pittsburgh scenario" unfolding here.  (You know, where the number 2 WR is signed to such an expensive deal that the number one guy becomes too expensive.  Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace).  Compare the stats of Cruz and Nicks.  Cruz' stats are superior in essentially every meaningful category.  More catches per season, more yards per season and game, more TDs per season ON AVERAGE, more yards per catch, etc etc.  Now, if the Giants sign Nicks to a lucrative deal, then it becomes more likely that Cruz signs elsewhere after a one year tender (just like what transpired in Pittsburgh).  

The better, and more intelligent course of action for the Giants?  1.  Don't franchise Nicks, he's not worth $10.5 Million for one season.  2.  Don't tender Cruz, it only pisses off the player who knows he is worth MUCH more than the tender and exponentially increases the chances of Cruz playing elsewhere after 2013.  3.  Sign Cruz to a long term contract.  He is clearly the team's number one WR.  4.  Trade Nicks for draft picks if he cannot be signed to a deal commensurate with his actual value.  If he is dealt, simply draft a WR in one of the early rounds with the pick obtained in the trade.  

If I am mistaken, kindly state why or how.  

jeebs
jeebs

Chris Burke and editors, John Mara is not the GM of the Giants!

KimberleyBrennan
KimberleyBrennan

@ad2 He was the Most Productive BECAUSE Nicks has been Injured. Nicks is the Better Player, But Is Injury Prone, at least the last 2 seasons. If Healthy, i dont Think its close in Terms of Who is Better all around. Its A Hard thing to deal with. Cruz can say he is a Elite Rece3iver all he wants, but the Fact of the Matter is , he is a Faster Wes Welker, and Like the Patriots, It comes down to whether or Not the Giants are Willing to Pay a slot receiver like an Outside  Receiver... New England said HELL NO! so we'll see what the Giants do.

sceneinthecity
sceneinthecity

@ad2 What happened when we let Steve Smith go? He was a pro bowler. He had 107 receptions and 1200 yards... an undrafted player, named Victor Cruz, steps in and has similar production.  Cruz's numbers are due to the Giants system and the emphasis they put on the slot position.  Believe me, the Giants will be fine without Cruz if they decide to part ways.

KimberleyBrennan
KimberleyBrennan

@John4 Nicks is the better receiver, better all around Player. Cruz has played 2 seasons.. in Both of those Seasons, Nicks was Playing INJURED... That Invalidates what you said. Go back to The Seasons Prion to 2012 and 2011.. Nicks Put up Numbers as Good, if not Better in Sum categories than Cruz and in those seasons Nicks Was Healthy. I think People Are blinded by the Flash of Cruz. When in actuality, His Numbers Are a Result of Nicks Not being Nicks... Hakeem is Eli Mannings Binky, When healthy, Eli would ALWAYS look to Hakeem Nicks, He would Simply flip ball up and allow Nicks to Out Muscle and Out Jump Defenders... all those Throws have gone To Cruz because Nicks has not Been Able To run. Cruz, who , as a Ginats fan, I LOVE.. but Is Only a Faster Version Of Wes Welker.. and Like ive said, it Comes down to Whether or Not the Giants Are Willing to Pay a Slot receiver like an Outside threat. the Patriots Said HELL NO! And Welker is now in Denver... We will see What the Ginats Do.

sceneinthecity
sceneinthecity

@John4 I have no idea what you're talking about or the posters that follow you.

"Simply draft a WR in one of the early rounds..."  Simply replace Nicks who when healthy is one of the top 5 WR in the game?

You guys are over valuing Cruz, NY has shown that you can plug anyone into the slot and get great production, it's due to the offensive structure. Remember Steve Smith, pro bowler for the Giants...

Working the outside of the field is much more difficult and there are far fewer players that are able to have success in the X receiver position, that is why the ones who can excel at that position get paid a lot. 

Cruz is a great player, and as much as I like him if he moves on I would be suprised if his replacement didn't post 80+ receptions with 1,200 yards at a fraction of the price.  

The Giants are being responsible offering him top dollar for his position and not going over board (like the Knicks would).  The Giants are simply a well run team.

leehwgoc
leehwgoc

@John4 There's an irrational reluctance among fans and NFL persons alike to accept that Cruz is more important to the Giants offense than Nicks.

Nicks is the 1st round pick with gorgeous physical measurables that the Giants front-office has their ego invested in.  Cruz is the undrafted free agent gem the Giants stumbled upon and, to this point, have paid very little for (and thus don't have much invested in).

Plus, Nicks is made of glass.  He misses games every season, and is 100% for even less.  Cruz, on the other hand, is consistently healthy.

Qblegend
Qblegend

@sceneinthecity @ad2   I beg to differ my friend. Steve Smith is not a strong versatile receiver like Cruz. The exception with Cruz is that he plays all the positions as a WR, #1, #2, and #3. Cruz is strong like a possession receiver, great route runner, and fastest in the squad. He has been the most productive for the past two years. My only knock on Cruz is that he drops 1-2 balls per game  You cannot state someone hunger for the game is because of Eli. 

Steve Smith declined because of his knee injury; he is not the same anymore. If Steve didn't have that knee injury, he would have been as productive. He is a bad example to bring into the mix. People should stop categorizing Cruz has a slot because he isn't. He enter as one, but ended the last two seasons as the #2, and when Nicks wasn't playing he was #1 receiver in the team. 

sceneinthecity
sceneinthecity

@ad2 By the way, I love Cruz I just think his contract demands are too lofty for his actual value. He's not the #1 in NY, he's a slot guy, and he's being offered top dollar for the position he plays.

John4
John4

@sceneinthecity Oh, you Giants fans who see the world through rose colored glasses. Nicks top 5 WR when healthy?  You cannot be serious!  (That's my John McEnroe).  Nicks is frequently "nicked" up, and is a number two on his own team.  If the Giants can keep only one of their top 2 WRs, due to Cap room, etc, it would be FOOLISH to keep Nicks at the expense of losing Cruz.  Nicks is top five? - HAHAHAHAHA.   No, Nicks is NOT top five.  Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Demaryius Thomas, Vincent Jackson, Dez Bryant, Reggie Wayne, Wes Welker, Roddy White, AJ Green, Julio Jones, Steve Smith, Marques Colston, etc etc etc.  Nicks is NOWHERE to be found!  Top 5 WR in the league?  Give a lot of consideration to coming back to reality, please.

(Caps for emphasis, not yelling)!

John4
John4

@leehwgoc lee - I agree with you.  The Giants stumbled onto Cruz.  They drafted Nicks in the first round, and have less to show for it than they should.  So far, of course, Nicks has earned far more than Cruz, and if Nicks gets the Franchise tag, at $10.5 Million for one year, there is NO WAY that Cruz re-signs with the Giants.  Why should he?  

jeebs
jeebs

@Yung @jeebs Yea, you would think that Sports Illustrated knows the difference between the owner and the GM, who by the way for those playing at home, is Jerry Reese... as everybody except SI seems to know.

KimberleyBrennan
KimberleyBrennan

@John4 @sceneinthecity Anyone who thinks they know Football and would Pay Wes Elker OR Victor Cruz More than Hakeem Nicks, Is smoking sum Serious stuff.. Liek i KEEP SAYING.. the Last 2 Seasons, Nicks has Played Hurt... he has Not been NICKS. Look at the Numbers BEFORE the last 2 Seasons, and YOu will see the Steady Climb of Nicks, then the Injuries began... This season will Tell you whats What, If he stays HEalthy, Nicks Will Easily Match or surpass Anything Cruz does AS A SLOT RECEIVER! The Ginats THANKFULLY are not Reactionary, Because they Understand the Positions Cruz and Nicks Play, and The Value that is associated with those Positions... Roddy White is a Loud Mouth, but He said Something that i thought was very accurate when a reporter Asked About The Best Receiving Tandums in the NFL... He was asked Who is Better than HE and Jones, and The Pairing of Nicks and Cruz was Put to him and White Said "Nicks YEah, but I respect the Numbers Cruz Puts up, but He does not Play Outside, He is a Slot receiver, The Big Boys Play Outside" THANK YOU!

John4
John4

@sceneinthecity Oh OK, Scene in the city guy, that makes a lot more sense.  X receiver, and slot receivers and all, you have cleared that up nicely.  And your logic is far superior to mine, clearly, and with the additional information you gave me, with your superior knowledge, you are right, Nicks IS ONE OF THE TOP 5 WRS IN THE NFL!  I was wrong, clearly you are right.  Sorry for my idiocy.  

(Caps for emphasis, not yelling)!  

sceneinthecity
sceneinthecity

@John4 @sceneinthecity we're talking about X receivers and if you don't know what that is google it. Cruz is a very good slot receiver, but not worth more than Welker.  Steve Smith posted 100+ receptions and 1200 yards before Cruz, we were fine when he left with the undrafted Cruz - that tells me that the slot in New York is a productive position.  Top 5 outside receivers who are all more talented than any slot receiver 1) CJ, 2) AJ, 3 / 4 / 5 Julio, Thomas and Nicks debatable.  Bryant needs to prove he can keep his head on, Johnson is getting old rapidly although he had a surprisingly great year last year, the rest of those guys I won't even comment on as their not in the same class due to age or  skill.

John4
John4

@jojomogir I also did not say that the Giants should pay $10.5 Million to Cruz.  I said that the franchise tag (of $10.5 Million for one year) is too much for Nicks.  

John4
John4

@jojomogir I'm pretty sure that Cruz will get a higher per year contract than a WR in his 30's.  (Welker).  Also, all I originally said is that it could be too expensive for the Giants to keep both Cruz and Nicks.  If they can only keep one (due to the cost) then MY OPINION is that they should keep Cruz.  (And if they can't keep Nicks, to trade him for a draft pick if possible).  If I'm wrong, fine.  Do YOU think the Giants will be able to keep both Cruz and Nicks?  If not, which one of the two should they keep?  jojomogir - please also note that Cruz' avg per catch is higher than Nicks', so maybe he does stretch the field better than Nicks.  Otherwise, how to explain the higher yards per catch?

jojomogir
jojomogir

@John4 @leehwgoc Slot receivers simply do not get $10.5 million a year - name one who does.  Cruz has been great for the Giants, but even $8 million is a lot for him.  Look at what Welker got.  You get the big money for being able to stretch the defense with deep routes and prevent the D from putting 8 in the box.  Cruz, as good as he is in turning short routes into long gains, does not stretch the defense like Nicks does, and therefore he isn't worth as much.