Ca-ching. That's what both Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz heard when the Kansas City Chiefs agreed to a five-year, $56 million ($26 million guaranteed) deal with wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. It will, at least in part, help both the New York Giants' young wide receivers when it comes to the negotiating table.
Whether or not Bowe's contract is a solid one for the Chiefs (it's not) is irrelevant. The same can be said about the five-year, $55.55 million deal the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave Vincent Jackson a year ago, and the $6-$6.5 million annual deal the Miami Dolphins are about to give Brian Hartline. The bottom line is it sets the tone for both Nicks and Cruz, and will likely cost the Giants either the players or a lot of money they wouldn't have otherwise wanted to spend.
In early February, Giants 101 shared an editorial suggesting that over-paying Cruz would be the wrong decision, and that co-owner John Mara had it right when he said the team would not break the bank for their No. 2 wide receiver. We stand by that opinion, and Mara probably does, too. Unfortunately, the landscape has changed, and with new contracts coming up for Wes Welker, Mike Wallace and Greg Jennings, it's about to get worse before it gets better.
The agents for both Cruz and Nicks now have a distinct advantage, and if wild trends continue, will have even more in their pocket following the aforementioned contracts of Welker, Jennings and Wallace. It's gotten to the point where Cruz, who was once anxious to get a deal done as quickly as possible, will now benefit from patience. His value will continue to increase as NFL General Managers drop absurd amounts of money on wide receivers.
In comparison, this is how Cruz stacks up over the last two years against some of the league's premiere receivers – both under contract or about to score a big deal of their own:
Victor Cruz: 168 catches for 2,628 yards and 19 TDs
A.J. Green: 162 catches for 2,407 yards and 18 TDs
Vincent Jackson: 132 catches for 2,490 and 17 TDs
Julio Jones: 133 catches for 2,157 yards and 18 TDs
Dwayne Bowe: 140 catches for 1,960 yards and 8 TDs
Mike Wallace: 136 catches for 2,029 yards and 16 TDs
And although most of those players represent over-done contracts or soon-to-be over-done contracts, it's the deal Hartline is about to receive that will push Cruz up into that $8-$10 million annual range he wants to be in.
Brian Hartline (over the same two-year span): 109 catches for 1,632 yards and 2 TDs
And then there is Nicks, who will certainly benefit from the Bowe deal the most. Despite missing a lot of time a season ago, his numbers of the last three seasons stack up against the best of them.
Bowe: 45 games, 212 catches for 3,122 yards and 23 TDs
Nicks: 41 games, 208 catches for 2,936 yards and 21 TDs
Big money is coming, and although the Giants still have some leverage with Cruz a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) and Nicks with a year remaining, it may behoove them to sign some long-term deals or risk waiting for even larger contracts to hit the board a year from now.
Also…Dwayne Bowe, Football, Greg Jennings, Hakeem Nicks, John Mara, Mike Wallace, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Victor Cruz, Vincent Jackson, Wes Welker
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