A much needed sigh of relief has swept over the Giants locker room. Victor Cruz has finally came in and signed his RFA tender. The tender, worth $2.879 million, could have been lowered to just $630,000 on Monday. Being the only receiver in Giants history with 80+ receptions, 1000+ yards, and 9+ TDs in a season (did it twice, back to back), Cruz is still looking for much, much more.
Take a look at his total stats in the past two seasons. 168 for 2,628 and 19. In 2011 he was 3rd in the league in yards, 9th in receptions, and 6th in TDs. In 2012 he dropped to 15th in yards, 12th in receptions, and 7th in TDs. Why the dip in numbers? I point to Hakeem Nicks. Only played 13 games last year, and was banged up for a significant portion of those he did play in. When Hakeem is not getting the attention from the opposing defenses while injured, they can afford to focus on Cruz much more. Could it have been defenses catching up to Cruz after seeing over a seasons worth of tape? Definitely. But without a healthy Nicks on the field, defenses only had to focus on one receiver.
Cruz has stated that he will continue to work with the Giants on a long term contract. He wants $11 million per year. That number is what the number 1 receivers in free agency have been getting recently. The Giants do not view him as their number 1 receiver after coming out publicly saying that Nicks is their guy. Sources have reported that the Giants are at $8 million per with at least $15 million guaranteed. Cruz refuses to take any thing less than a $9 million per year average.
Do I expect a camp holdout? Not at all. Each day of training camp missed is $30,000, and apparently Victor is all about his money. He just waited until OTA’s and mini camp were over to make sure he did not get hurt before signing.
What may have also pushed him is the competition heating up within the wide receiver corps. There have been multiple reports about how well Rueben Randle has performed so far this off season, something I will touch on later. It is not just Randle that has been impressive, its Murphy and the rest of them. Gilbride even came out and said that not having Cruz and Nicks at practice is not only hurting the team, but themselves,
“The thing is, they haven’t been working, they haven’t been listening, they haven’t been growing, they haven’t been developing, they haven’t been receiving the coaching that they need to get better. And to be quite frank, both of them need it.” – OC Kevin Gilbride (USA Today)
All in all, Giants fans can breathe a sigh of relief right along side the Giants themselves. There is no doubt that we need Cruz on this team, but with the separation in contract talks, it will be interesting to see how it goes the rest of this off season.