The New York Giants have been in a stalemate with wide receiver Victor Cruz for the duration of the offseason. The team has reportedly offered the Pro Bowler a deal that would pay him upwards of $7 million annually, while Cruz himself is looking to be paid the highest salary of any wide receiver in the NFL. Cruz is not even the best wide receiver on his own team, let alone the entire league. However, he’s still an extremely valuable commodity in the slot that can create big plays and wreak havoc on opposing defenses. The Giants want to keep him in New York for the long term, but Cruz has yet to bite on any of the team’s contract offers.
Cruz knows he’s going to be on the Giants next season. As a player who has turned in two Pro Bowl caliber seasons while playing for a fraction of his market value, he understands that this is perhaps the only chance he will ever receive to sign a big money contract. At this point in the offseason, Cruz is merely exercising his leverage to its fullest extent. It’s evident the team is not going to pay him $11 million per year, but he’s determined to squeeze every last dollar out of the Giants. After playing at a high level for the last two seasons, he has the right to do that.
Teams have until April 19th to sign Cruz to an offer sheet. For Cruz to play on another team in 2013, not only would another team have to beat the Giants best offer before then, but they would have to surrender a first round pick as well. Although it’s not impossible that another team desperate for help at wide receiver swoops in at the last minute and breaks the bank for Cruz, it becomes more unlikely with each passing day. After April 19th, it’s a guarantee that Cruz will be on the Giants next season, which means the Giants will have all the leverage in contract negotiations. At that point, Cruz can either sign his first-round tender and play for the Giants in 2013 for $2.879 million, or take the team’s long term contract offer.
Until then, Cruz has no incentive to sign a contract of any sort. If he’s not satisfied with the Giants current offer, he has two more weeks to negotiate with the team, while technically still having the option to play somewhere else next season. The closer it gets to the April 19th deadline without any other teams expressing interest in Cruz, the more leverage the Giants gain in negotiations. The team has likely already made their maximum offer, now its just a matter of forcing Cruz to make a decision.
If Cruz is determined to hit free agency next offseason, there is nothing the Giants can do about it. However, it would require Cruz to play another season for significantly less than his market value, without a longer term contract and put himself in harms way for 16 more games. For a player with a multi-million dollar contract currently on the table, it stands to reason that he will eventually accept the Giants offer and guarantee his financial security for the rest of his life.
For the Giants, the key to winning these negotiations is to wait patiently. They have given Cruz a fair offer, and the team knows he is quickly running out of options. After April 19th, he will either have to take the Giants offer, or leave it on the table. Leaving the Giants offer on the table would be a huge risk, and the team is wagering that No.80 will eventually put his signature on a long term contract this offseason. However, right now the two sides are playing a waiting game, hoping that the opposition will blink first.. In all likelihood, Cruz is going to take his money, it just doesn’t make sense for him to do so for another two weeks.
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