The negotiations between the New York Giants and Victor Cruz carried more implications than just keeping Cruz around for another six years, which is perhaps why they seem to have gone on forever. General Manager Jerry Reese had to keep the thought in the back of his mind during negotiations that whatever he pays Cruz, he'll have to pay Hakeem Nicks even more if he wants to keep him a Giant.
Victor Cruz decided he was deserving of number one wide receiver-type money, but there was one problem with that: Cruz isn't the Giants' number one receiver; Hakeem Nicks is. This is also the final year of Nicks' contract, making it likely the Giants will have to deal with this drama all over again. The Giants wound up agreeing on a contract with Cruz which will pay him $45.879 million over six years, in addition to his $9.5 million signing bonus.
The Giants knew that whatever deal they gave Cruz, they would have to pay Nicks more — one reason the it took both sides about eight months to agree upon a number.
“The Giants knew that whatever they paid Cruz they were going to have to pay more to Nicks,” one prominent NFL agent said. “His agents were watching this whole thing closely and I’m sure they were drooling over the size of Cruz’s deal.”
Nicks and his agent will demand more money than what Cruz got, but the he may have a hard time getting that from the team because of his injury history. Nicks hasn't played a full 16 game season in any of his four years in the NFL, Cruz hasn't missed a single one. Last season was his most unproductive because of injuries to his knee and foot that forced him to miss three games. In the 13 he did play, he was a shell of his usual self.
When Nicks is completely healthy, there's no denying he is one of the top wide-outs in the NFL. In his best season in 2010 Nicks had 79 catches for 1,052 yards and eleven touchdowns and he did so in only thirteen games. Last season in the same number of games, Nicks had 53 catches for 692 yards and three touchdowns. The difference in those number is what makes this next season so crucial for Nicks. If he can have a solid season similar to 2010 he should have no problem getting the contract he will want, though it may not be from the Giants.
Nicks is set to earn $2.725 next season, and if he can prove he can stay healthy he'll be in for a big pay day. If the Giants don't want to take a chance on his health, Nicks will certainly test his value in the open market once he becomes an unrestricted free agent in March.
The Giants could put off negotiations another year by franchising their number one receiver, but even then they'll be paying him $10.5 million for one season. If that were the case the Giants would have about $18 million tied up in two wide receivers and would be heavily strapped against the salary cap.
There are several variables that will play a role in Nicks' contract negotiations that could decide whether he will remain in a Giants uniform. The salary cap, Nicks' demands, and his health will play a huge role in the Giants' decision. Will the Giants want to gamble on an injury prone receiver? The eight months it took the team to agree on a contract with Cruz could appear a walk in the park compared to the next installment of drama Giants fans will experience.
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