While restricted free agents rarely leave their teams during free agency, the New York Giants and Victor Cruz still can’t come to terms of agreement on a long term contract, with the obvious reason being money while other big words are being thrown around to disguise the real reason for discord.
The question is this – do the Giants think Cruz is a no.1 receiver like he thinks he is and ought to be paid like? Cruz is looking for a deal that will give him $10-11 million a season, while the Giants, seeing him as a very good slot receiver, willing to make him the highest paid player in that position, are offering something around $7-8 million a season, with the change of agents for Cruz (stepping over to Jay-Z) doesn’t really change the fact that the team and player aren’t seeing eye to eye.
For the Giants, Cruz is no longer the best kept secret in the NFL, and probably don’t think that his numbers from the 2011 season (1536 yards, 9 touchdowns) are going to return. Teams have picked up on how to limit him by getting physical early on the play, which sometimes throws Cruz off balance. He had a good season in 2012, finishing with 1902 yards and 10 touchdowns, but his yards per reception dropped by more than 33% from his breakout season. That is before we mention Hakeem Nicks, who many think is the real no.1 wideout for the Giants.
As of now, we’re at a stalemate. So what happens if Cruz doesn’t sign a contract with the Giants or get an offer sheet from a different team, forcing the Giants to match? Once April 19 passes, Cruz will play for the $2.879 million tender, although the Giants have a chance to play hardball, reducing it to $594,000, which is 110% of his 2012 salary, their right if he hasn’t signed by June 15. Then, before the 2014 season, they can franchise him, which will probably be something just under $11 million a season. That would make his compensation just under $14 million, which is what the Giants are offering him now. If the Steve Smith case is something to take notes from, Cruz needs to sign whatever he’s being offered now.