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.
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.
Also…Football, Hakeem Nicks, Jerry Reese, John Mara, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Victor Cruz
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