The New York Giants signed wide receiver Victor Cruz today, but not really. Cruz signed his tender of $2.89 million, which does relatively nothing in terms of securing No. 80 for the long-term. In reality, the two sides are at a standstill and are refusing to budge, which will make the next few months of negotiations al the more interesting, given that Cruz has now signed a contract that obligates him to become a full-functioning member of the team. However, Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News reported today that the Giants have offered Cruz in excess of $8 million annually, but that Cruz will refuse to sign for less than $9 million per season.
It seems as if the moment the Giants are willing to make Cruz an offer commensurate with what Cruz thinks his market value is, he tries to nudge his contract demands just a little higher. Cruz is an incredible player with the ability to change games with one play, but Eli Manning is capable of making the likes of Louis Murphy and Jerrel Jernigan productive slot receivers as well. The Giants know they do not need to spend $9 million per season for a guy who is a one dimensional, albeit lethal threat.
Additionally, the more money the Giants offer Cruz, the less the team will have to sign Hakeem Nicks next offseason. When healthy, Nicks is a more athletic, versatile player than Cruz is even on his best day, and is also a guy who opens up the middle of the field for Cruz to make big plays. That's not to say that Cruz isn't a great player. He is, and he deserves a big pay day. But the Giants can't offer Cruz the farm, because it's likely that whatever deal Cruz signs is the starting point in the Hakeem Nicks contract negotiations.
If the Giants and Cruz fail to come to a long term contract this offseason, the team may let the free agent market dictate just how much Cruz is worth. Although unrestricted free agency generally costs franchises attempting to keep their own players, it's also possible that no other team thinks Cruz is worth $9 million over four or five seasons. If Cruz gets injured this season, then he loses any chance at cashing in on his success over the past two seasons.
At the end of the day, it remains unlikely that Cruz is going to pass up a deal worth $8 million dollars annually and risk losing everything to injury next season. Especially when he's reportedly quibbling over less than a million dollars per year. The Giants already coaxed Cruz into blinking once and signing his tender. It would serve the team well to hold its ground and force No. 80 to either sign the contract or put the long term financial security of his family at risk.
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