There’s an unwritten rule that you don’t pay two wide receivers a #1 guy’s salary, which means that the New York Giants aren’t just making life difficult for Victor Cruz because they want to low-ball him, but they’re considering the contract they’re going to need to give Hakeem Nicks when the time comes, and they see him, despite his less impressive numbers, as their top receiver for the next few years.

The logic behind this? A healthy Hakeem Nicks is better than Victor Cruz, despite Cruz catching for 2628 yards over the last couple of seasons. Nicks missed 10 games last year, but has much better hands than Cruz and is a bigger threat in the end zone. Cruz, despite his 2011 explosion, can be handled physically, and had a significant drop in his numbers last season because the main threat, Nicks, wasn’t on the field.

Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz

So what’s the issue? Cruz is still looking for over $10 million a season, while the Giants have now been willing, according to rumors, to up their offer up to around $8 million a season. It’s hard to believe they’ll go any higher, and it might mean that slowly yet surely the two sides are close to reaching an agreement, despite the standstill impression.

If the deal isn’t concluded by next month, problems might arise. The Giants have an option, by June 17, to rescind on their RFA tender to Cruz, that’s worth around $2.8 million for 2013, replacing it with a 10% raise over his 2012 salary of $540,000, which equates to $594,000. That’s nasty negotiation tactics, but if Cruz is playing hardball, the Giants might eventually start losing their patience.

Some think that making such a move would cause Cruz to enter holdout mode, but it will enable him to sign the tender after missing most of the season and become an unrestricted free agent in 2014. Otherwise, he’s available to receiver the franchise tag, which is something both sides would like to avoid at this point, but it seems Cruz, or his agent, isn’t leaving the Giants much of a choice.

A month is a long time, but one thing is clear from these negotiations: The Giants want to give themselves enough cap space to give a healthy (hopefully) Nicks the bigger deal. Cruz’ big numbers in 2011 were made available thanks to Nicks, and the slot receiver greatly suffered for it in 2012. The Giants are hoping that Cruz realizes that being paid $8 million a season is as good as it’s going to get, and he should sign the deal before things start to get ugly.

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