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Former New York Giants WR Amani Toomer Says Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks Learned from Steve Smith

June 5th, 2013 at 4:41 PM
By Paul Tierney

Former New York Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer has done a relatively nice job at transitioning from playing on the field, to a media role off of it. He began doing on shows on local Long Island sports, and has worked his way up to appearances with both NBC and Sports Illustrated. Seeing a former Giants great succeed after retirement is encouraging, yet it makes it significantly more painful when that person says something that makes little to no sense.

'Amani Toomer' photo (c) 2011, Mike L Photo's - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Today on Sports Illustrated Now, Toomer compared the Giants treatment of Steve Smith to the contract situations of Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks.

"Steve Smith was a guy who had a contract on the table, got injured, they pulled the contract off the table," Toomer said.  "He subsequently went to the Philadelphia Eagles, then he went to Tampa Bay, then the Rams in St. Louis. Anyway, he never got his big contract."

In the NFL, there's always a risk factor, for both parties, when it comes to signing a contract. Weeks before his injury, Smith had a five-year, $35 million contract offer on the table that he had the opportunity to sign and secure his long-term financial wealth. He decided not to accept the deal and instead bargain with general manager Jerry Reese, and suffered a career altering injury not long after doing so.

Smith could have signed a contract that would have made him a very rich man, but the allure of making even more money led him to take a risk. He lost, and it's not the Giants fault that Smith got hurt. Additionally, the Giants would have been idiotic to keep the contract on the table post-injury. Toomer says that Cruz and Nicks are learning from how the Giants treated Smith, but the truth is, any team in the NFL would have pulled that offer off the table. Smith had a chance to sign, he didn't, got hurt, and now his career is over. As productive of a player as he was for Big Blue, it's entirely his fault that he didn't accept the long-term contract when it was offered.

"In the NFL, the way it is now with the CBA, you have to take advantage when you can," Toomer said. "Because things can change in an absolute second."

Toomer is assuming that Nicks is holding out, while his camp still insists that Nicks' absence from OTA's is not contract related. In fact, it's entirely possible that Nicks does not want to injure himself in OTA's like he did last season and have to play hobbled again in 2013. His contract situation isn't ideal, but unless Toomer has some inside information that the public doesn't have, there's no way of knowing exactly why Nicks has not attended OTA's thus far.

Regardless, the Giants are going to do all they can to keep their two star wide receivers for the foreseeable future. Nicks and Cruz are going to try and get as much money as they can out of general manager Jerry Reese, just as any Pro Bowl caliber player would. But, they are not missing OTA's right now because of how the team treated wide receiver Steve Smith. The two situations are not at all similar, and will play out completely unique of one another.

Tags: Amani Toomer, Football, Hakeem Nicks, Jerry Reese, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Eagles, Sports Illustrated, Steve Smith, Victor Cruz, wide receiver

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10 Responses to “Former New York Giants WR Amani Toomer Says Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks Learned from Steve Smith”

  1.  JimStoll says:

    I don’t get how Amani thinks Hakeem and Victor are learning from Steve Smith — have they signed?

    or is it that Hakeem and Nicks are learning that the Giants will treat them the same way as Steve Smith — offer them the contract the team feels is fair and if they don’t sign and get injured, say goodbye ?

    just don’t get how the article’s title, the content and the sentiment align

  2.  6string says:

    Paul, I can agree with you on Cruz. I not so sure Hakeem didn’t decide to skip OTA’s after seeing Smith retire without ever getting his big payday. I’m sure he would like to get his contract taken care of this year, especially if he thinks about his past injury issues. He’s risking a lot this year. Skipping OTA’s is one way to avoid injury, but it also sends a message to Reese at a time when Victor is looking to get his big payday. His agent has to be concerned too, it’s also a big payday for him.

  3.  Nosh.0 says:

    I said it before and people disagreed but I think these Nicks/Cruz contracts are the first ones of JR’s career where he’s really been tested. That’s not to say that the Plax hold out after the super bowl, or some other contract decisions weren’t difficult for him.

    But in the case of young players who are no brainers to lock up, JR has not seemed to have a problem getting guys at a price he likes. Whether it was Tuck, Osi, Webster, or Snee. And in the case of Steve Smith, the decision was made for him once Smith got hurt.

    Cruz and Nicks on the other hand seem to be the first of his tenure that are balking big time at his current offer. Not only that, but they are clearly 2 guys he wants locked up, badly. It will be interesting how this all plays out.

  4.  Nosh.0 says:

    In hindsight probably the biggest mistake JR made was not locking up Cruz after 2011. I’ll admit I was not entirely sold on Cruz after just one season, and wanted to see him do it again. But I imagine had you tried to negotiate with Vic after the SB win, his price would have been a lot cheaper with Free Agency still 2 years away.

    •  jfunk says:

      Meh, if Victor’s demands didn’t go down after a he was largely shut down for the last third of a season he played lined up next to the ghost of Hakeem Nicks, then I doubt his contract demands were any less after having the best statistical season in Giants history.

      I don’t blame these guys for going after as much money as they can get when they can get it, but I think Victor is making an unwise gamble if he doesn’t sign before the season.

      It’s hard for me to imagine him making SO much more money in FA next year that it will make up what is effectively a year of lost income, PLUS the huge gamble he is making with his entire family’s future. He could fall down the stairs of his house tomorrow morning, every day is a unnecessary risk with 7 figures guaranteed on the table.

      For every Olrando Pace, there are dozens of Steve Smiths. Set your family up for life. Play cute with your next contract if you want.

  5.  Krow says:

    Toomer is right. The Giants should spend substantial cap dollars on injured, unable-to-perform players. I don’t know what Reese is thinking.

    •  jfunk says:

      For what it’s worth, I didn’t get the impression that Amani necessarily means the Giants did something disingenuous. I think it was more a matter of “this is the way things are in the league”.

      Where Amani goes wrong here, is his logic isn’t contiguous. It makes sense for Hakeem’s situation (don’t get hurt before you get the contract), but it doesn’t make sense in relation to Victor (he HAS the money on the table, he should take it before he gets hurt).

      I think Amani gets cast in a little too much of a negative light on here sometimes. His out of context comments that are not 100% pro-Giants get an article made out of them and there seems to be an impression that he’s anti-Giants.

      However I think if people actually read his web site on which he gives almost weekly commentary on the Giants during the season, they’ll find that he’s generally still a “fan” of the team and mostly casts them in a positive light. He’s usually optimistic and I think he honestly calls it as he sees it. I think he’s frequently wrong in his analysis both positive and negative, but I don’t think he’s generally LOOKING for something bad to say about the team.

      I do agree he had his feelings hurt by being demoted to a #2 with Plax’s arrival (although I believe he was a GREAT #2 for the team…better than he ever was a #1), but I don’t think that has led him to be unreasonably negative about the team.

      G101 never writes an article when Amani posts a blog with homeristicly positive views on the team.

  6.  GOAT56 says:

    This contract situation is due to what happened with Osi and Tuck. The Giants were able to lock them up long term with under market value deals. Osi and Tuck both agreed to long term deals early thus giving the team a discount. With Osi’s contract complaints the last few years I think many young players saw this re-signing early as an example of what not to do. We all focus on Steve Smith but what about Tuck? If he played out his rookie deal Tuck would have made a lot more money. Osi got a little underpaid but ended up getting a pretty good deal.

    Also, markets can change. While Nicks would have seemingly got a better deal after the SB with the recent WR contracts Nicks didn’t lose anything by waiting. Cruz I don’t think had the option to sign earlier because a year like 2011 for a WR coming out of nowhere is too hard to judge. JR needed to see another season.

    JR has the upperhand with both Nicks and Cruz until the season ends. It’s extremely risky for Cruz to wait. At least Nicks is going to make 12 mil from his original deal. Cruz is a 3rd of that if he signs the tender. And if the team plays hardball and lowers the tender to a 10% raise Cruz is really put in a box. I can’t blame Cruz for not signing his tender but the team can really put him in a corner if he doesn’t sign the tender. Nicks is set up because #1 WRs get paid and this year’s free agents showed you don’t have to be healthy or coming off a good season to cash in. Cruz will still make good money as a free agent as well but if he’s only making 600k this year that’s not even 2 mil Cruz gets from 2011-2013 without a new deal. Meaning that Cruz has stronger incentive to make a deal that’s not what he really wants.

  7.  mikesenior says:

    I think Amani is just stating the facts, if they play w/o a contract and get injured they lose the big contract. As the article states any team would pull the contract off the table. Given his injury history Nicks is taking a hell of a chance if he plays this year w/o a contract and Cruz can go that route also and take his chances. I don’t see where Amani did anything to cause this article.

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