Victor Cruz is reportedly expected to sign his contract extension with the New York Giants before the start of training camp, which is set to start on July 26th. Most fans will not only be relieved to see the contract dispute between the Giants and Cruz end, but they will be excited to see Cruz back on the field catching passes from Eli Manning.
Once the deal is signed, the Giants will then turn their attention to trying to locking up Hakeem Nicks to a long-term as he will be a pending free agent after the 2013 season. Nicks is in the final season of the rookie deal that he signed back in 2009 and will make $2.725 million this season. With Nicks' talent and ability, he would like to get paid a lot more than that, but that will determine on what he does for the Giants this season.
The Cruz deal also plays a big part in what Nicks could get with the Giants after this season. If Jerry Reese overpays on a deal for Cruz, then it's not leaving much money to try and keep Nicks away from free agency and out of the arms of other suitors, who might be willing to pay more for someone like Nicks.
If the Giants stand firm at their $7 million per season offer and don't budge on it, then that gives the Giants a lot more flexibility to make Nicks a much stronger offer instead of Cruz getting his way in the start of this when he was looking for $10 million per season, which likely would have restricted them from getting Nicks back.
Now, the Giants could look to restructure some contracts before 2014 like Chris Snee ($6.95M), David Baas ($4.75M), Antrel Rolle ($7M) and Eli Manning ($15.1M). Plus, the contracts of David Diehl, Corey Webster and Justin Tuck are off the books as well, which will give the Giants more money to use for Nicks.
Ultimately, the thing that will decide if Nicks will get paid like a top receiver in the league or not will be his health; something that really diminished his 2012 production on the field. A lingering knee injury forced Nicks out for three games and held him to 692 yards and three touchdowns last year. Nicks' injury also hurt the production of Cruz, who despite hauling in over 1,000 yards receiving, drew a lot more double and triple teams on the field and wasn't able to get open as much since defenders didn't have to worry about Nicks so much. Even when Nicks was on the field, he wasn't the same player on the field.
Nicks is looking to change that, and not only will he benefit from being healthy and staying on the field during the season, but so will the Giants and their offense, because when Nicks is healthy and productive, it makes Cruz that more lethal, and throw in Rueben Randle, Louis Murphy and Brandon Myers into the mix, and the Giants could have one of the most dynamic offenses in the entire league.
The Giants could run into the problem of Nicks looking to get more than the Giants are offering, in which they could slap the franchise tag onto Nicks, which would be a one-year offer for $10.5 million. But ultimately, Nicks is going be in the same boat as Cruz and wants the long-term deal.
This is a situation that the Giants and Reese won't have to address right away, especially since they will want to see if Nicks can actually stay healthy enough and produce on the field. If he can't, then offering him a high salary won't be an issue. However, if Nicks can and does stay healthy and is the receiver we've seen before in the past, then the team has a decision to make.
Considering the Giants have expressed a strong desire to keep Nicks for a long time, they'll likely make a pretty solid offer. But first, Cruz has to put his name on the dotted line first before any of us can start wondering about Nicks.
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