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Not Paying Victor Cruz Top Dollar is the Right Business Decision for New York Giants

February 4th, 2013 at 7:00 AM
By Dan Benton

Wide receiver Victor Cruz is exceptionally talented. There's no denying that, and there's no denying that the New York Giants would love to have him remain in blue for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, the NFL is a business, and sometimes the business side of things prevents desires from coming to fruition. So as much as General Manager Jerry Reese & Co. would love to sign Cruz to a long-term extension, they'll need to so it without overpaying.

'Victor Cruz makes the catch' photo (c) 2011, Kathy Vitulano - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Cruz recently acknowledged that the two sides are locked in a bit of a stalemate, and if you ask Giants co-owner John Mara why, he'll tell you that it's because Cruz and his camp are asking for entirely too much money.

In early January, it was reported that Cruz would be seeking a contract worth between $8 – $10 million per year. For many fans who live and die by the Madden video game, the reaction to those numbers were "fine! do it!" But the reality is those numbers would not only make Cruz one of the highest paid players on the team, it would make him one of the highest paid wide receivers in the NFL. In fact, it would make him the second highest paid wideout in the league, behind only New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes (scheduled to earn $11 million in 2013).

Even at the low end of the $8 – $10 million range Cruz is seeking, that would place the salsa dancing king in the top five highest paid wide receivers in 2013, behind only the aforementioned Santonio Holmes, Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson ($9.5 million), Chicago Bears WR Brandon Marshall ($9.1 million) and Seattle Seahawks WR Sidney Rice ($8.5 million).

In other words, Cruz wants to be paid more than Larry Fitzgerald, Roddy White, Calvin Johnson, Reggie Wayne, A.J. Green, Dez Bryant and Hakeem Nicks. And if he were to get a contract on the higher end of his demands, he would be paid more than anyone not named Santonio Holmes, who is working on a ridiculous contract courtesy of Gang Green.

It's great to have confidence and it's great to want things, but as talented as Cruz is, he's not worth top-5 wide receiver money. He's also not worth being the second highest paid player on the Giants, behind only quarterback Eli Manning, who is scheduled to earn a base salary of $13 million in 2013.

It's not a knock on the youngster, but he's not even the best wide receiver on the team. The success and health of Hakeem Nicks directly correlates to the success Cruz has experienced over the last two years, so the Giants are making the right decision by (allegedly) placing a higher priority on #88.

In the end, the Giants are in the position of power. Cruz is a Restricted Free Agent (RFA), so a first-round tender is likely the route they will take if a new deal can't be reached by the time free agency starts in March. In other words, there is no real rush to get his contract done because he's not likely going anywhere in 2013. If he holds out as a result, then so be it – even at a first-round tender salary, he's not likely to be able to afford those fines for very long.

At the end of the day (royalties to Antrel Rolle), the Giants may have to get tough and stand firm with Cruz and his agent. They'll never deny wanting him to remain in blue, but they're also not an organization who is going to pay the #2 WR on their team top-5 WR money. And that's the right business decision.

*Player salary information was obtained via Spotrac.com and included only base salary numbers; not bonuses or the overall yearly cap hit.

*The 2013 RFA first-round tender amount is approximately $2,878,628 or 110% of the 2012 salary.

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Tags: Football, Hakeem Nicks, Jerry Reese, John Mara, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Victor Cruz

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22 Responses to “Not Paying Victor Cruz Top Dollar is the Right Business Decision for New York Giants”

  1.  Dirt says:

    I don’t disagree with most of this, but here are some facts:

    With a healthy Nicks, Cruz was on a 9-7 team. With an injured Nicks, Cruz was on a 9-7 team, AND caught more balls and TDs (I think, I could be wrong on the stats). In any event, Cruz is gonna get his regardless of who’s on the other side of the field.

    • Dan BentonDan Benton says:

      We watched Cruz get eaten alive by the double-team mid-season towards the end of the season because teams stopped focusing so much on Nicks. 7 of his last 9 games were not very good. At all. Over the final three games of the season, when Nicks was really hurt and a complete non-factor, Cruz was manhandled, catching only 10 passes for 88 yards. That’s not a coincidence.

      • Dan BentonDan Benton says:

        In games Nicks did not play or was merely a decoy (6 total games): Cruz had 30 receptions for 289 yards. 109 of those yards game against Philly in week 4. That’s an average of 5 receptions for 48.2 yards per game.

        In games Nicks did play and was even slightly effective (10 games): Cruz has 56 receptions for 803 yards. That’s an average of 5.6 receptions for 80.3 yards per game.

        Cruz did average more TDs with Nicks out/decoy (5 TDs in 6 games) than he did when Nicks was healthy/slightly effective (5 in 10 games).

        •  Dirt says:

          Those stats are compelling, can’t argue that.

          I guess I would counter with: how many playoff trips did Nicks make without Cruz?

          I dislike getting into this debate because I think they’ll both be signed, they’re both great, they’re both important and ypu don’t choose favorites among your babies (even though I own a Nicks jersey).

  2.  Rosedale Is Back says:

    Wow just woke up from my Super Bowl Drinking and went and read all this hate for Cruz. Dude is a beast we can’t lose him especially not for money. How many Cruz Jersey’s did this kid sell how much money does he bring the New York Giants for owning the rights on this Kid. He brings so much publicity to the team in a positive light we can’t lose a guy like this it would be bad business. On the field he’s not Hakeem “The Dream” Nicks but he’s the very best in the league at what he does and that not just being a “Slot Receiver” . You pay them both our Team Core is Manning Nicks Cruz JPP Rolle give them at least 4 more years together. Not saying we pay Cruz this year because we hold all the cards. No team in the league is going to pay a first round tender for Cruz they didn’t last year for Mike Wallace they won’t for Cruz. The Giants are setting the Market by negotiating with Hakeem first is a good tact. Nosh.0 is spitting Gospel but So is The Old Homer FF55yrs. Hakeem is a rare talent he is everything Michael Irvin was but humble he’s a play maker. Cruz and Nicks feed off each other but you can see they have a quiet competition but actually enjoy seeing the other player shine. We can’t break these two up if Nicks wasn’t injured all year we would have done big things.

  3.  Rosedale Is Back says:

    Eli threw for 1,000 less yards than he did last year people let’s say Eli throws for about 1,000 more yards and Cruz got maybe 300 of those yards that 30% which is being very giving with **** much Eli targets the kid guess what he has 1300 yards and 10 tds do you pay the man top dollar yes you do end of conversation hes a beast pay the man what he wants Dan bet that never jumped into your mind.

    • Dan BentonDan Benton says:

      But he didn’t. And even if he did, that’s still not worthy of #2 overall WR money. You don’t negotiate contracts based on “if this or that happened,” you negotiate contracts based on what has already happened. Cruz is an exceptional talent. Would love to see him stay with the Giants for his career. I think that will happen. But no one can convince me he’s worth #2 WR in the NFL kind of money; that he’s worth more than Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald.

  4.  Rosedale Is Back says:

    Yes “Hate”!! Back to back 1,000 yard season 19 tds in two years are you kidding me Pay the Man I’ve seen players walk in get paid top Dollar Canty, Boley, Bass they bank broke for mediocre talent who weren’t the best at what they did. This kid is From the area a home grown talent pay the man don’t lose him over money!!!

  5.  Krow says:

    The MGM 2014b Superbowl early odds:

    Denver 5-1
    Whiners 5-1
    New England 7-1
    Green Bay 7-1
    Seattle 10-1
    Houston 10-1
    Baltimore 10-1

    Atlanta 12-1
    Pittsburgh 15-1
    New Orleans 15-1

    Dallas 20-1
    Indianapolis 20-1
    N.Y. Giants 20-1
    Chicago 20-1

    Washington 25-1
    Philadelphia 25-1
    Cincinnati 25-1
    Minnesota 25-1

    Carolina 30-1
    Detroit 30-1
    N.Y. Jets 30-1
    San Diego 30-1

    Miami 50-1
    Tampa Bay 50-1
    Buffalo 75-1
    Tennessee 75-1

    Oakland 100-1
    Arizona 100-1
    Cleveland 100-1
    St. Louis 100-1

    Kansas City 150-1
    Jacksonville 200-1

  6.  jfunk says:

    This Cruz debate is stupid because there aren’t even two sides of it.

    Nobody has expressed any “hate” or even anything negative about the guy. All anybody has said is that, under the assumption that the Giants can’t pay TWO top 5 WR salaries, Nicks would be the preferred guy to keep. The only counter argument anybody has actually made to that is “they should sign them both”.

    Well, nobody disagrees with that. If JR thinks he can find a way to sign them both, everybody would be thrilled. The only “anti-Cruz” arguments that have been made here are based entirely on the assumption that he can’t do that. If you’re going to start your counter-argument based on the opposite assumption (that both CAN be signed), then you’re not arguing against anybody…we all want that.

    I’m not sure paying two WRs that kind of salary is a wise way to build a team though. Has anybody ever done so successfully? When you see a team with multiple stud wide outs, it’s generally because one guy is on a cheap deal for some reason (either still on rookie contract or only broke out after signing).

  7.  Krow says:

    Set up a poll … the question is straightforward …

    Q: If you could only have one of either Hakeem Nicks or Victor Cruz on your team … which one would it be? ‘Both’ is not an option.

    •  Chad Eldred says:

      The question is straightforward, but the answers are still going to depend upon assumptions. If someone assumes that each guy is healthy, Nicks is going to be the overwhelming choice. However, if I’m the GM, I want to see Nicks play the first half of the ’13 season before I put a contract in front of him.

  8.  Rosedale Is Back says:

    UHH comparing Cruz to Steve Smith is hate!! Saying Jernigan can be 85% of Cruz is negativity. Are you guys smoking dope? Cruz is a beast and is #1 at what he does he’s not Larry Fitz or Calvin but he can’t be let go and neither can Nicks so its not which one do we keep its we sign them both. They should be one and two highest paid wideouts in New York and Santanio Makes 11 this year and neither should ask for less because the two best wideouts in NY “Pay Them Both”!!!!!

  9.  Rosedale Is Back says:

    This isn’t who do you rather Keep its when they are both healthy we are a top offensive team in the league. Give Eli and offensive Line worth a crap and we will win the Bowl Next year with losing Webster,Tuck,Osi,Phillips,Boley,Canty, and Bradshaw that’s how good Eli is with these two guys. Last Year Eli would torch teams they are the second best duo in the league they both have great work ethic you don’t choose we have to keep them both!!

  10.  Levito says:

    I don’t think Cruz would incur any fines by holding out. If he doesn’t sign the tender, he’s not a part of the team and won’t be fined for missing camp. But if he holds out past a certain time (I can’t remember when), he’ll lose the accrual of a season in the league, and he’d be a RFA again next season, instead of a UFA which would require the exclusive franchise tag.

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