Eighty-two receptions for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns while being paid less than half a million dollars—does that seem like a reasonable price?
After missing all of 2010 with an injury, the undrafted free agent out of Massachusetts evolved into one of the NFL's most dangerous wide receivers this past season—quite frankly, some of us will argue that Cruz is the most dangerous receiver in the league.
Cruz was an integral part to New York's Super Bowl winning season as he was the team's leader in receptions, receiving yards, yards per reception as well as touchdowns.
New York's No. 1 wide receiver, Hakeem Nicks, may have played in one less game than Cruz but he was six receptions, 344 receiving yards and two touchdowns short of Cruz.
If we go strictly by the stats, Nicks may be the No. 1 but Cruz certainly appears to be not only more productive but more valuable to the Giants than Nicks.
Nicks signed a five-year, $12.54 million deal back in August of 2009, which is significantly more than Cruz's minuscule $490,000 deal.
This Thursday, Cruz appeared on NBC's PFT Live and made it clear that he believes he should be paid much more entering 2012:
“I think I was paid, you know, relative to where I came in this year and, you know, I came in as a free agent so that’s the salary I was on, so I don’t feel like I was underpaid. I mean, I feel like after my performance this year, you know, I feel like I deserve to be paid more money at this point. But that’s something I’ll let my agents and those people take care of and I’ll just go out there and play the game.”
Asking for a new, well-deserved contract may come off in the wrong way to some people, but going by stats, Cruz certainly has a strong case.
However, let's take a step back here and not advance much further: This was just Cruz's first full season in the NFL—so how do we know he's not a one-year wonder?
There's definitely a chance that Cruz is a one-year wonder, but the odds are slim and the Giants need to be confident that he's not if they're going to cough up some major dough.
Going to the media and publicly discussing a contract is not the correct way to approach things if you're seeking a larger contract. However, Cruz does have a strong case.
But in the Giants' point of view, they need to be 100 percent sure that Cruz is not a one-year wonder which could lead to waiting one more season to ensure that he's the real deal. This may turn into a contract dispute with Cruz possibly holding out in 2012.
The 2012 offseason is certainly young as free agency will not start until March, but the Giants do have a decision to make with Cruz's contract and his future with the Giants.
Be sure to check out Tony Santorsa's blog: PatriotsPlus