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New York Giants Owner John Mara Says Team Won’t Break the Bank for Victor Cruz

February 1st, 2013 at 2:17 PM
By Paul Tierney

'Victor Cruz' photo (c) 2011, scott mecum - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ 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.

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Tags: 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

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39 Responses to “New York Giants Owner John Mara Says Team Won’t Break the Bank for Victor Cruz”

  1.  Nosh.0 says:

    Some great and not so great interviews this week on radio row. Here’s a look or listen at the best and worst.

    Best Interview: Mike Francessa and Ray Lucas. Just 20 minutes of good radio. Mike is the best in the biz at doing interviews and Lucas is extremely candid. Not afraid to say what’s on his mind. I highly recommend this one. (Scroll Down page to find it)

    http://newyork.cbslocal.com/audio-on-demand/mike-francesa-1/

    Worst Interview: Bill Simmons and Justin Tuck. You have to understand I’m a huge Simmons fan, not just his writing, but the podcast too. So you can imagine my excitement when I saw Tuck was on. Just an awkward interview from the get go. Tuck was not funny what so ever. You also couldn’t tell if he was mad or not. Just really awkward and embarrassing for the listener. This should have been a great 30 minutes of Tuck and Simmons talking about the 2 Giants vs Pats SB’s and instead it was just plain bad. I hope Tuck has other post football career plans than the media because he’ll last about 1 year before he gets canned.
    P.S. Following Tracy Morgan and dealing with a train in the background I’m sure didn’t help, and Simmons and Sal could have asked better questions. But that doesn’t change the fact that Tuck saved his worst performance of the year for radio row. Listen at your own risk. Tuck part starts at 28 minute mark.

    http://www.grantland.com/podcasts

  2.  rlhjr says:

    Nor should they. The Giants will draw a financial line in the sand. This far and no further. If they lose some players the organization has to be ready to push the reset button. Become young and grow from there. It’s going to happen sooner or later anyway. Why not sooner?

  3.  Nosh.0 says:

    Cruz is still the most under rated Giant by the fans.

    2011: 16 games, 82 catches, 1536 yards, 9 TD’s
    2012 : 16 games, 86 catches, 1092 yards, 10TD’s

    Nicks who we all know is great has never played in 16 games, and never caught 80 balls.

    And he would have had about 3 more TD’s this year if Eli didn’t miss him 3 times during that 1st skins game.

    The kid isn’t going anywhere and if the FO lets him walk it may be their biggest mistake ever. Plus he’s got great chemistry with the QB. Something that can’t be over looked.

    Who else in the league is as dangerous in the slot as Cruz? As good as Nicks is, there are guys that can play on the outside like him. No one plays the slot like Cruz. His skill set is that unique. The guy is invaluable to this team and the his name shouldn’t even be mentioned when it comes to leaving.

    People like to say we missed the playoffs with Cruz playing and Nicks hurt, so Nicks must be more valuable. But the fact is if Cruz misses as many games as Nicks did this year we’re 5-11 or 6-10.

    I just don’t understand why this guy can’t get the credit and respect he deserves from fans. I’m going to assume that fans look at the salsa dance as cockiness and that rubs them the wrong way. Otherwise there’s no logical explanation.

    •  GOAT56 says:

      We all saw Steve Smith put up very good numbers too in the slot. Sorry but the slot isn’t equal to an outside WR. It’s like a great slot CB compared to a CB that plays outside. Cruz can also play outside at a good level but not a star level. Replacing Nicks is certainly possible but it’s going to cost even more to replace him. Replacing Cruz can be done by having players like Randle and Bennett step up while a compentent slot guy (hopefully Jernigan if we can’t keep Cruz) emerges. Cruz still missed game even if IR wasn’t need his first year. Nicks is a durability risk but he was also mishandled this year. If Nicks is healthy and Cruz is banged up I think we make the playoffs. Cruz is very good but he’s closer to the Wes Welker specialty slot WR category than a true elite WR like Nicks is.

      I took us a few years to replace a true #1 WR in Plax but only a few games to replace a great slot WR in Steve Smith.

      •  Nosh.0 says:

        Cruz is better than all the guys you just listed. Because he can make big plays from the slot. He can turn a 9 yard catch into a 99 yard TD. He can also go deep. He can also take a big hit or 2 and stay in the game. (Over/Under on unreported Cruz Concussions this season is 2.5) He also demands a double team.

        He also can get open in zone coverage and beat his man one on one. And has impeccable timing and chemistry with Eli in understanding the option routes based on coverages.

        Please, don’t insult the man and put him in the same sentence as Steve Smith, Randle or Bennett. If anything those guys should be upset with the years they had with Cruz drawing all the coverage his way.

        I hate to break it to all you guys, but if there is a Giants WR whos future with the team is in doubt, it’s Nicks not Cruz. #88 needs to show he can stay healthy before he gets paid. #80 has already showed every thing he needs to.

        •  Nosh.0 says:

          *Shown

          ehh that was ugly.

        •  GOAT56 says:

          Cruz had one great year and one good year. I think his norm is a lot closer to the good year than the great year making him much like welker. We really only saw a few explosive plays from Cruz the whole year. Smith at his best was every bit as good as Cruz was this year. #80 for the money he wants needed to prove he could be the man and he failed to do so. No one is against Cruz but there is no way he’s worth 8-10 mil for our team.

  4.  Nosh.0 says:

    Yeah it has to be the salsa and commercials.

    I mean the kid went on a book tour last year before camp and people were up in arms around here. Nicks on the other hand is quiet and soft spoken.

    But if anyone has ever listened to Cruz in an interview it becomes very clear that the kid has his priorities in line. He knows how lucky he is to have an opportunity in the NFL and to play with a QB like Eli. He also knows that the NFL is what will pay his rent, not his personality (Cut to Chad Ochocinco and T.O. nodding)

    The kid has had about as good a 2 years as a WR can have and still you just get the idea that he is not liked by a lot of fans on here. And I have no idea why. It makes no sense what so ever and is one of the most maddening things to read. The kid is one of the most 5 important Giants on the roster. He’s not going anywhere.

    •  Begiant says:

      I love the guy but we are in no position to give him a payday. We have all the leverage and this is a business. If there was no salary cap I would love nothing more than to throw money at Cruz. However we do have a salary cap and he is a restricted FA. If we desired we could keep him on the books for less than 500k.

      •  Nosh.0 says:

        I totally agree. I have no problem using our leverage and waiting as long as possible to pay the kid. That’s smart business.

        But there is no way that this kid is leaving. None what so ever. He eventually will get his $$$ from us unless he gets hurt next year.

  5.  Nosh.0 says:

    O.K. I don’t want to turn this into a rant which it already has become. I’ll just add this.

    There are players on the Giants whos performances this year were debatable. Eli, Bradshaw, JPP, Canty.

    There are also players whos value to the team going forward are debatable. Guys like Webster, Tuck, Boley, and Phillips.

    However when it comes to Victor Cruz, his performance and value to the team are not up for debate. There is absolutely nothing bad you can say about the kid. He’s 26 years old, and since he’s been a starter he hasn’t missed a game. It’s not a question as to whether or not he will be signed, but how much $$$ he gets.

    •  GOAT56 says:

      Yes it was. Cruz had a good year but nothing close to 2011. He wasn’t horrible like Webster but he was very much in the Eli, JPP group.

    •  jfunk says:

      Hakeem Nicks’ health is a concern, but there’s no question he is a more important cog to this offense and the better player overall.

      Great slot play keeps the chains moving. Adding game breaker ability to great slot play makes Cruz a unique talent.

      Dominant X play changes your entire offense. It changes your opponent’s entire defense.

      Yes, there are a few guys in the league that have ability on par with Nicks…but none of them will ever be available, they’re all locked up. Cruz’s uniqueness does not make him more valuable than Nicks any more than it makes him more valuable than Eli for the same reasons. A drop off in slot receiver performance can be mitigated by your offense overall better than a dropoff in X performance.

      I don’t get the sense anybody doesn’t “like” him, they just fear he’s too rich for our blood. If the team has to choose between Nicks and Cruz, Nicks has to be the choice assuming the doctors sign off on Nicks’ long term health prognosis.

      If in doubt about which receiver has a bigger impact on the game, just watch the 2011 playoffs again. One guy had a single dominant game. The other guy had 3 en route to the second most prolific post season for a WR in NFL history.

  6.  Nosh.0 says:

    Look I respect all the people on here, well most, and I say this as kindly as possible.

    If you think Cruz can be replaced or that the Giants could have made the playoffs without Cruz and with Nicks this season you are just plain wrong. We’d be drafting in the top 10 if we didn’t have Cruz this year.

    If you really can’t see Cruz’s value to this team I highly suggest re-watching every game highlight from 2011 and 2012.

    Don’t feel bad though. When Plax shot himself half the people on this site suggested he was easily replaceable and we could win with Smith and Hixon as our starters. So people need not be embarrassed by poor judgment when it comes to evaluating Cruz’s value. It’s happened many times in the past in regards to our WR’s.

    •  UANYG says:

      I don’t disagree. But if we’re talking about abnormally shrewd and plan oriented front offices, which I believe characterizes the Giants, then it’s not out of the realm of possibility that one ends up walking.

      If you want the window open for a long time, you sign these guys fast, in my opinion. From a business perspective, there’s at least a rational argument against it.

    •  GOAT56 says:

      Cruz is not Plax. I think there was more hope that Plax could be replaced. But it’s much easier to replace a slot WR than a #1 WR that draws coverage away from others.

  7.  UANYG says:

    Will Cruz get paid? In all likelihood, yes. But I’m not convinced that the front office knows whether one, all, or none, of the Cruz/Nicks combo will be back. Ideally you resign both.

    But There’s a reason the Giants have drafted Randle–whom they believe to be a first-round talent as an understudy to Nicks–and Jernigan, both of whom were drafted in the second round. It’s because they believe in objectively pricing their in-house talent, and seek out players that can contribute in 5-year cycles (the length of a rookie deal).

    If I were to tell you can have receivers A&B for 20-30 million per year, or receivers C&D for 8 million at 80-90 percent of the production, it’s not unreasonable to go with option B, particularly when you know the QB has a magnifying effect on the talents of the receiving core.

    I’m not advocating for a one or other approach, and I certainly want Nicks and Cruz over any other option, but it stands to reason that the front office may have other thoughts in mind. I don’t know that they would cry if another team met the tender on Cruz.

    •  GOAT56 says:

      A first round pick for a very good WR that was asking for great money would be fine with me. I rather keep Cruz but paying him 9 mil per year would have more long term negative effects.

      The other thought in mind I think what your missing is that Cruz might not be here.

      •  UANYG says:

        No, I agree with you. If the Giants tendered him, and he was snatched up by another team this off-season, I’m not entirely convinced the FO isn’t secretly happy about it. Especially if Jernigan proves to be worth the second rd. talent.

        It’s not unlike the Patriots situation, where Welker fits the offense well, and it probably better than Edleman, but the latter is at the very least going to be serviceable because the QB won’t allow otherwise.

        Cruz is easier to replace than Nicks, plain and simple, despite his remarkable achievements on the field the last two seasons.

  8.  Nosh.0 says:

    This is negotiating plain and simple. Cruz wants x amount of $$$ and the Giants want to give him less.

    Randle and Jurnegan are a great example of why Cruz is so valuable. Neither contributed much at all this year and both have shown trouble grasping the offense. WR is very much a “chemistry with the QB” position, which is not something that comes easily or for that matter quickly.

    Looking at our current roster and the guys being paid big money, who is more valuable to the team going forward. Webster or Cruz? Snee or Cruz? Boley or Cruz? Tuck or Cruz? Canty or Cruz?

    This really isn’t a hard decision. It’s just how much can they afford to pay him.

    •  UANYG says:

      If it’s a one-to-one, absolutely. Cruz all the way. If it becomes a one-to-many relationship, than you have to weigh covering 3-4 spots with the money you’d use to keep 1, especially when you’ve drafted for that position with pretty high picks.

      Let me make it clear, my preference is to keep Cruz and Nicks together. But if one is eventually going to go, the optimal way would be to have Cruz taken by another team on the first round tender that the giants will hopefully assign.

      •  Nosh.0 says:

        Yes no player other than a franchise QB, can get paid huge $$$ that make putting together a balanced roster almost impossible. (See Calvin Johnson).

        And if Cruz were snatched up for a 1st round pick and asking for 9 mill per than I’m sure the Giants would be O.K. with that.

        But in my mind it’s simple. You give the kid 5-6 mill per with a decent bonus. No way he turns that kind of money down. And he’s worth it.

    •  GOAT56 says:

      Rookie WRs tend not to contribute much in this offense. Randle showed more than most rookies so I’m confident that Randle will be a bigtime performer. Jernigan is much more of a question but his biggest problem is he’s a slot WR and Cruz is just a better slot so Jernigan doesn’t have a place to play.

      It’s not that simple. Maybe Webster, Snee and Boley need to be replaced because they are not worth the money. But a free agent replacement won’t be cheap. In addition, part of the Cruz issue is Nicks is a free agent after 2013 too. You can’t pay Cruz 9 mil and expect to be able to sign Nicks to a deal within any reason. They only way we keep both WR is if Cruz takes a 6.5-7 mil per year deal then maybe we can keep Nicks for something in the 8-9 mil per year range. But there is no way we keep both if we overpay for Cruz now.

      •  UANYG says:

        I realize I’m breaking it down for the sake of a blog post more than I should. But I think you understand my general points. Depending on the position, we may be able to get two quality free agents for the price of Cruz.

        You bring up another though, which is timing. We can barry-dangle Cruz out there and see if someones willing to give us a first, which we can’t with Nicks right now.

        Obviously that solves alot of problems.

        Please tell me if my logic is just completely absurd!

      •  Nosh.0 says:

        Well yeah. I mean 8-9 mill is ridiculous. I don’t know where those numbers came from. I always was under the assumption that both Nicks and Cruz would earn in the 5-7 mill range. Neither would pass that kind of money up.

        It’s just a question of whether the team can get Cruz to sign for 5 mill per or 7 mill per. 8 and 9 is not happening. It’s not realistic. I hope him and his agent know that.

        •  GOAT56 says:

          Cruz maybe in that range but there’s no way Nicks will be re-signed for 5-7 mil. A #1 is worth more than 7 mil. Garcon got 8 mil without proving beforehand he was a #1.

          Cruz could get more than 7 mil on the open market. The question is he willing to play 2013 for 2 mil to have that opportunity.

  9.  Nosh.0 says:

    Yeah you guys are right. Cruz doesn’t change the way defenses cover. He doesn’t draw coverages toward him. He also doesn’t make big plays like guys on the outside. (note sarcasm)

    You know in part why Nicks had a great game against ATL and GB last post season? Because Cruz was demanding a ton of attention from defenses.

    If last season shows anything it’s how pathetic our WR’s were minus Cruz. The fact that no one could step up and make an impact with Cruz drawing doubles all year is pretty bad. Or it just means Eli was that mediocre in 2012.

    To define him as a slot WR is unfair. The guy is a game changer. You don’t let players like that walk, especially when you have guys on the roster making big $$$ that aren’t worth it anymore.

    •  UANYG says:

      Cruz was getting the attention because Nicks wasn’t at full-strength. You get them both playing at full-speed and no doubt they are complimentary, but we’ll have to agree to disagree over which we value more.

      You make a compelling argument, and it’s helped reframe how I view Cruz (outside the slot/outside receiver paradigm).

      My broader point isn’t about who’s more talented, it’s about who is more replaceable, given the many scarcities we have to acknowledge which include dollars and which skill set is more unique. In this instance, I believe that Cruz is more replaceable, even if he’s equally talented as Nicks. So if one eventually leaves due to money, I’d prefer it be Cruz.

      Ideally, we keep both.

      •  Nosh.0 says:

        The Nicks/Cruz debate is a fair one, but I’m with you that they compliment each other well and are best as a duo.

        Nicks health throws a wrench into the debate as it is now a question if injuries will affect him long term.

        I didn’t realize however Cruz was asking for 9 mill per. That’s too much for any WR. I was always under the assumption that we could get him for Antonio Brown money 6yr/42 mill.

    •  GOAT56 says:

      How many big plays did he make in 2012? I give you that 2011 was a great year. I think that 2011 season is much more an aberration than 2012. I was disappointed that as soon as teams realized Nicks was shell of himself which was about the Pitt game Cruz did very little the rest of the year. Nicks produced before Cruz was around at a similar level. Cruz to me this year was just a very good slot WR. Last year he was a dynamic WR. Without the big plays, Cruz’s main value is a great slot WR but not a great WR,

      To me Cruz is a lot like Greg Jennings with GB. A very good player, even a probowler some years. But not the player you break the bank for because with the QB you have and other weapons he’s replaceable. By saying replaceable I don’t mean his loss wouldn’t hurt but his loss would be something the team can overcome by getting greater contributions elsewhere.

  10.  Nosh.0 says:

    Look I don’t know the cap at all so it’s hard for me to comment on what we can afford to give guys. All I know is that when I hear guys like Webster, Tuck, Canty, Snee and Deihl are getting big money next season, it’s hard to fathom why we won’t have cap room. Because those dudes need to all take big $$$ cuts or just plain be cut.

    If this season did anything positive for the front office it was identify the guys who are worth being paid and who are not. And their are a whole bunch of guys who aren’t worth the money, and arguably a roster spot.

    Somebody mentioned above that the team needs to rebuild and get younger. I agree, But Cruz at 26 is one of the guys that gets to stay. Tuck, Snee, Deihl, Webster are up for debate.

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