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Victor Cruz Contract Sets Stage for Intense Negotiations Between Giants & Hakeem Nicks

July 11th, 2013 at 11:00 AM
By Casey Sherman

The negotiations between the New York Giants and Victor Cruz carried more implications than just keeping Cruz around for another six years, which is perhaps why they seem to have gone on forever. General Manager Jerry Reese had to keep the thought in the back of his mind during negotiations that whatever he pays Cruz, he'll have to pay Hakeem Nicks even more if he wants to keep him a Giant.

'Eli Manning Warms Up with Hakeem Nicks' photo (c) 2011, Rajiv Patel (Rajiv's View) - license:

Victor Cruz decided he was deserving of number one wide receiver-type money, but there was one problem with that: Cruz isn't the Giants' number one receiver; Hakeem Nicks is. This is also the final year of Nicks' contract, making it likely the Giants will have to deal with this drama all over again. The Giants wound up agreeing on a contract with Cruz which will pay him $45.879 million over six years, in addition to his $9.5 million signing bonus.

The Giants knew that whatever deal they gave Cruz, they would have to pay Nicks more — one reason the it took both sides about eight months to agree upon a number.

“The Giants knew that whatever they paid Cruz they were going to have to pay more to Nicks,” one prominent NFL agent said. “His agents were watching this whole thing closely and I’m sure they were drooling over the size of Cruz’s deal.”

Nicks and his agent will demand more money than what Cruz got, but the he may have a hard time getting that from the team because of his injury history. Nicks hasn't played a full 16 game season in any of his four years in the NFL, Cruz hasn't missed a single one. Last season was his most unproductive because of injuries to his knee and foot that forced him to miss three games. In the 13 he did play, he was a shell of his usual self.

When Nicks is completely healthy, there's no denying he is one of the top wide-outs in the NFL. In his best season in 2010 Nicks had 79 catches for 1,052 yards and eleven touchdowns and he did so in only thirteen games. Last season in the same number of games, Nicks had 53 catches for 692 yards and three touchdowns. The difference in those number is what makes this next season so crucial for Nicks. If he can have a solid season similar to 2010 he should have no problem getting the contract he will want, though it may not be from the Giants.

Nicks is set to earn $2.725 next season, and if he can prove he can stay healthy he'll be in for a big pay day. If the Giants don't want to take a chance on his health, Nicks will certainly test his value in the open market  once he becomes an unrestricted free agent in March.

The Giants could put off negotiations another year by franchising their number one receiver, but even then they'll be paying him $10.5 million for one season. If that were the case the Giants would have about $18 million tied up in two wide receivers and would be heavily strapped against the salary cap.

There are several variables that will play a role in Nicks' contract negotiations that could decide whether he will remain in a Giants uniform. The salary cap, Nicks' demands, and his health will play a huge role in the Giants' decision. Will the Giants want to gamble on an injury prone receiver? The eight months it took the team to agree on a contract with Cruz could appear a walk in the park compared to the next installment of drama Giants fans will experience.


Tags: Football, Hakeem Nicks, Jerry Reese, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Victor Cruz

22 Responses to “Victor Cruz Contract Sets Stage for Intense Negotiations Between Giants & Hakeem Nicks”

  1.  GOAT56 says:


    GOAT56 says:
    July 11, 2013 at 10:29 AM

    Nosh.0 says:
    July 10, 2013 at 8:01 PM
    I was saying this during the Cruz debate and I’ll say it again now, Joseph is not getting paid by us. Unless his level of play goes up a notch this season, he’s simply not the type of difference maker that JR will pay. And there is absolutely no reason why Linvall should not go after every last dime when he hits FA. He will be overpaid by another club come March 2014.


    GOAT56 says:
    July 11, 2013 at 10:36 AM
    You are correct if you go by history. But I think we are in a different position going into 2014 unless Austin emerges. Only Hankins, Austin, Kuhn and Jenkins are under contract next year. Kuhn is not someone you go into the year as a starter with even if he improves. Jenkins will be 33 next year so I not even sure he’s around. With Austin some even question if he makes the roster and I think we all have questions if he can play. So if you don’t re-sign Hankins you still have to replace Joseph with someone. And this stop gap vet DT signings is not a long term solution. I think Hankins will start in 2014 but I doubt a rookie starts and our holdovers have serious questions. I’m not saying we break the bank for Joseph because I doubt JR does that. But I do think a 4 year 20 mil type deal is something he could get even if he doesn’t make a real jump.

    fanfor55years says:
    July 11, 2013 at 11:00 AM
    Joseph would have to play a LOT better than he did last season to justify a $20MM contract.

    Jenkins is probably going to be back. Hankins is going to start in 2014 (if not sooner). Kuhn is cheap depth. If Austin “shows” in 2014 there is then no reason to chase Linval because Hankins, Jenkins and Kuhn do what he does, and in some cases may do it better.

    I’m with Nosh on this disagreement. Either Joseph steps up a notch this season or he’s probably gone unless he’ll take backup pay.

    •  GOAT56 says:

      Sorry I can’t see Jenkins or Kuhn starting next year. Jenkins might not even start this year. We are going to need help other than just our young players if Austin doesn’t pan out. I don’t by Kuhn as being anymore than a #4 DT rotational guy if that and Jenkins will be 33. At 33 how many DT are effective? Benard was pretty good in 2011 then hit a wall last year. Unless you’re talking about a great player most DTs are just about done at 33 and then to expect him to start? I just don’t see it. Maybe we don’t keep Joesph but would still need to replace him with a free agent DT and not of the vet min variety.

      But I do think Joseph is better than your giving him credit for. He played well in 2011 and played worse last year when he wasn’t surrounded by a rotational quality DT until Canty returned. But by then Joseph was warned down. Benard who started half the year was clearly done and should have been the 4th guy at best. And Kuhn is just a JAG to me. he’s like a Tolefson. So that greatly affected Joseph’s play last year. Playing with legit starting quality DTs will make Joseph better.

  2.  BigBlueGiant says:

    Let’s say Nicks can’t stay healthy for all 16 games. And misses his usual 3 games this season. he Puts up decent numbers, but nothing crazy, let’s say in 13 games, anywhere from 650-790 yds, 4-6 td’s.

    What kind of contract do we offer him?

    •  Krow says:

      A more pertinent question would be what kind of a contract would another team offer him. Mike Wallace had similar numbers … and scored $12,000,000 per year from the Fins.

      There’s always a desperate bottom feeder willing to take a risk on potential.

    •  GOAT56 says:

      I think you’re low balling Nicks. If he’s healthy for those 13 games he’s closer to 1,000. He had 693 yards last year and was clearly very hampered in half the games he played. But even with that as Krow beat me to the punch he gets paid. I think it has more to do with the nature of the injury. If it’s a different injury and not long term I still think he gets a 9 plus mil offer from us unless Randle has a great year and steps in seamlessly for Nicks while injured.

      If we wait the whole year and he’s actually a free agent his price automatically rises just because of the other suitors.

  3.  jfunk says:

    I think this could very well wind up being a full length contract. While the Giants can certainly afford to cut ties after 2+ years, by then the cap will also have gone up and an $8M/yr hit for a star slot receiver might not be all that tough to absorb.

    Could wind up with an Osi situation where Cruz is whining in 2016 because he’s no longer making the going rate during the final years of his long term deal.

    •  Krow says:

      Osi will be whining then too I bet.

    •  GOAT56 says:

      I say 3 year because Randle is only under his rookie year for that much longer. If we do keep Nicks long term and Randle develops as we hope going into 2016 I could see choosing Randle over Cruz. If we do extend Nicks his contract would likely be harder to get out of.

  4.  Krow says:

    Salary cap drama … get used to it. Every year.

    So … if a team offers Nicks a 5 year deal … total $60,000,000 … with $30,000,000 in the first 2 years … do we match it ?

  5.  Krow says:

    Nicks’ injury situation is the killer. Had he been consistent then I’m sure Reese would be putting a solid offer together. But after last year I doubt he’s going to get serious until Hakeem plays a few games … lights it up … and proves he’s healthy. By then it may be so long into the season that he just rides it out to free agency.

    •  GOAT56 says:

      Actually, I think Nicks injury situation makes it easier to keep Nicks. If Nicks had been healthy the last few years the starting point based on his talent and production would be 12 mil. Flaws are sometimes a good thing in keeping the price down. I’m not sure JR is as bothered about the injuries Nicks has occurred if none are lingering. I look at a player like Canty who had never missed a game when he signed here and end up being cut for always being injured. You can’t guess future injuries as long as the player is healthy when signed. Look at Drew Brees.

  6.  jfunk says:

    F0XLIN says:
    July 11, 2013 at 11:12 AM
    It was specifically said his signing bonus does not begin to be paid until next year, it is not a suggestion, I will find the article

    If this is true then the breakdown in the last article is wrong, as it shows no bonus cap hit in year 6.

  7.  LUZZ says:

    I would not pay Joseph 4 year 20 million.

    If I had to make a bet, I would predict a team will offer Nicks 12 million plus. I can’t see JR matching that number. The only way I see us retaining Nicks is if we somehow sign him mid-season in the $10 million annual range. I could see the Panthers or Bucs throwing him the Qwan. I’m not sure Nicks is in love with the northeast.

    •  GOAT56 says:

      Franchise tag! Nicks is probably not going to hit pure free agency because we will tag him before he can. There’s no way we would compete with Nicks on the open market.

      The best hope is to sign him to a deal now because it takes away the risk he has playing this year without long term money so we can save some on the annual salary. But if we wait until after the season he will cost a lot signing him in our window like Beatty, we will franchise him or lose him if he hits free agency.

      •  Krow says:

        Too big a cap hit. Almost $11 mil … all in 2014. Plus an embittered Hakeem Nicks. They’ll only do that if they’ve made some solid progress on a deal and need a little time. He’ll never play under a tag. Even Antonio Pierce couldn’t eat all those cap dollars.

        •  GOAT56 says:

          This is JR it’s all about business. With an unproven Randle at the # 1 and no other WRs capable of playing on the outside letting Nicks go at the end of this year doesn’t make sense. Of course you would prefer to avoid that cap hit. But next year we do have a lot of players coming off the books and others like Snee and Rolle who could be cut. Nicks playing under the tag still gets almost as much guaranteed as Cruz did with his long term deal. It’s a one year hold. You see if Randle can really be a #1 if so then you let Nicks walk in 2015 and pay Randle. If not then you try to get a long term deal with Nicks.

  8.  Krow says:

    Cruz really wanted to stay. New York is ‘his town’. He’s heavily into the lifestyle … for good or for bad. His marketability here is high. He didn’t want to play anywhere else. This was a big factor in locking him up long term like we did.

    You can’t say that about Nicks. He’s got nothing against New York … but he’s not a local product … he’s not worshipping at the Shrine of JayZ … and his income is limited by football. This next contract will comprise most of the money he’ll make in his life.

    •  LUZZ says:


      If I had a gun to my head right now and needed to call it one way or another. I think he hits the open market and gets a large deal. This could very well be his final season with us. Hope I’m wrong on this one.

  9.  fanfor55years says:

    Jenkins should be capable of giving us two good years, at least. When he was healthy he was one of the top DTs around, and he appears to be healthy again. There’s no way Reese gave him that contract if he didn’t think he could play beyond 2013.

    Hankins will be starting in 2014.

    Kuhn can be a good, cheap, depth player.

    Joseph had better step it up. I hope he does but I’m not sure he’ll be worth a $5MM annual contract. Depends upon how the cap is being allocated across the team.

    I know I’m repeating myself, but the odds are extremely strong that Hakeem Nicks will remain with the Giants. If Reese puts a reasonable offer on the table at some point this season Nicks and his agent have to choose between signing a long-term deal with security and playing for $10.5MM with a real risk of injury from the day the contract extension is in their hands to the last day of the 2014 season. Even if Nicks took $2MM of his 2014 salary after being franchised (after agents’ fees and taxes he’d net about $4.5MM) and bought an insurance policy from Lloyds, that will only get him something on the order of $5-7MM of coverage, with severe restrictions and opportunities for the insurer to avoid a full payout. Reese can, and should, offer him at least $20-22MM of guaranteed money in a $50-60MM deal. Unless Hakeem is nuts, the risk/reward analysis should lead him to sign with us quite happily.

    All this worrying about the cap if we have Nicks and Cruz making the kind of money they will is ridiculous. Look, Randle is cheap, Wilson is relatively cheap, Snee will either be gone or restructured severely, and Eli could be restructured because they will want to extend him over the next few years anyway. The big expenses on offense will be Eli, Nicks, Cruz and Beatty (and the last at a cost much lower than elite left tackles). When you add it all up the offense shouldn’t take more than 45% of the cap space. The rest can go to the special teams and the defense, and that’s more than enough to be good enough for those two legs of the stool. And in today’s NFL a great offense is more valuable than a top defense. Like it or not (I don’t), that’s the truth. Only an idiot would lose Nicks, and John Mara and Jerry Reese are not idiots.

    We’ll keep seeing articles like this, but unless he gets injured Hakeem Nicks is going to be signed, and he’ll be here for a long time. And that’s a very good thing.

    •  fanfor55years says:

      By the way, the cap should get to pretty close to $130MM next season, they will have burned off most of their dead money, and have handled the signing bonuses quite well. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that Jerry Reese knows more about how to manage the 2014 cap than do any of us, and that as one of the best personnel evaluators in the NFL he knows better than most what a linchpin on offense looks like: kinda like Hakeem Nicks.

      This is a topic that generates interest and heat, but Nicks isn’t going anywhere. Just as it seemed clear that in the end Cruz would remain a member of the Giants, the same holds true for Nicks. He will cost more. He should.

    •  GOAT56 says:

      You could say the same things about Canty and he’s younger. At 32 now expect two good years from Jenkins I think is too much.

      We agree on Hankins.

      Kuhn I’m not sure about but at 4th or 5th DT I won’t beef about him.

      On Nicks if he believes in himself he just might wait. Even a franchise tag in itself once you sign it is guaranteed. So he has some safety net. The next few months is the time to sign him.

      •  fanfor55years says:

        Well, we’ll see about Jenkins, but if Austin comes on I think Joseph is in an unlikely signing by us anyway unless he has a dominating season, and perhaps not even then. Austin is the wild card. He could be anything from a late roster cut to a revelation who becomes a great pairing with Hankins as the starters. I feel pretty confident about Jenkins as a #3 guy playing 30-35% of the snaps in 2014 (by the way, if Canty would have taken the salary Jenkins took he might still be here).

        Nicks can believe in himself all he wants. He knows that last season he got injured when a defensive back landed on his leg after realizing he was beaten, and that Steve Smith saw his career head rapidly toward a bad end shortly after turning down a very good offer from Reese on what looked like a very ordinary play and ordinary tackle. Receivers cannot protect themselves from injury. Confidence has nothing to do with it. A guy like Nicks who grew up with very little would be crazy to turn down $20MM+ guaranteed and risk losing it due to an injury. I completely agree with you that it would be prudent for Reese to get something done sooner rather than later. But I still think that one way or the other Nicks stays in Blue.

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