New York Giants wideout Victor Cruz is a restricted free agent this offseason. Given the great measure of success (both on and off the field) that Cruz has seen in Blue, it’s safe to assume that it’s in the best interest of both parties to make sure No. 80 is a Giant in 2013. Although both sides have remained optimistic in negotiations, there have been some recent rumblings that suggest contract negotiations are not going as smoothly as anticipated.
Yesterday, Cruz broke the news that there has been no recent movement in contract talks. Today, Bob Hubbuch of the New York Post reports that although Giants owner John Mara wants to bring Cruz back, he thinks that Cruz’s current demands are out of Big Blue’s price range. Furthermore, Mara says it would “safe to assume” that the team would place a high tender on Cruz in free agency.
Placing a first-round tender on Cruz would virtually assure that he remains a Giant next season. Although he’s a talented wide receiver, he proved this season that he’s not a true No. 1 wide receiver. When he has Hakeem Nicks on the other side of him, the Giants are able to move Cruz around in various formations and get him favorable matchups. That’s when you see him make big plays. Cruz disappeared at times in 2012, which significantly diminished his value on the free agent market. It would be nearly impossible for him to get the contract he wants from a team that also has to surrender a first-round pick to acquire him.
By giving Cruz a first-round tender, the team is in effect franchise tagging him without paying him an exorbitant salary equivalent to the average of the top-five wide receivers in the NFL. The Giants would get to keep him for an extra season, but he would hit free agency again after 2013 with the ability to sign anywhere he chooses. If the Giants have the cap room, they could franchise tag him then. However, logic suggests that Jerry Reese will have him locked into a deal by then.
The Giants are in no position to throw around cash this offseason. The projected $4.7 million salary cap deficit does not include the signing of any draft picks, nor does it include other necessary tasks like retaining Will Beatty or Kevin Boothe. Cruz can be a lethal weapon, but the Giants have to set a limit on how much they are willing to pay him. The team has young talent in Rueben Randle on the depth chart, so there is no reason to break the bank on a player who might be the third-best wideout on the team in 2014.
Also…contract, Football, free agent, Hakeem Nicks, Jerry Reese, John, John Mara, Kevin Boothe, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Rueben Randle, Victor Cruz, wide receiver, Will Beatty