Victor Cruz is a star wide receiver, but he certainly is not being paid like one.
UPDATE: Wednesday, January 2 at 10:15 p.m. ET by Ethan Grant
Now that the New York Giants are eliminated from postseason contention and the dust has settled a little from the reality of the team not being able to defend its Super Bowl championship, Victor Cruz and the Giants appear poised to resume contract negotiations.
Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk is reporting that Cruz isn't worried at all about his ability to come to terms with the team that has made him a star. Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN NY is also reporting that Cruz is confident that he'll be a Giant for a very long time.
Here's what Cruz had to say to ESPN:
"Obviously, you never know, it’s all negotiations, but I feel positive that I’m gonna be in New York for a very long time," he said. "And I feel positive that myself and my agents will get something done with the management of the Giants."
He followed that up with this comment:
"It got tabled for a couple weeks, mainly because of the two sides agreeing to disagree at the same time," Cruz said. "So it had been tabled for a couple weeks, but now that the season’s over and the statistics are what they are, I think we’re going to get back and pick up the pen again and see what we can do."
Nothing is set it stone, but this is a positive development for Cruz and Giants fans. He's been performing like a top wideout for quite some time, and I think the Giants will see to it that he gets paid like one.
---End of Update---
UPDATE: Sunday, November 4 at 1:40 p.m. ET by Timothy Rapp
Earlier in the week, Cruz felt a contract extension might be close to completion with the New York Giants. According to Jason La Canfora of CBS, nothing is imminent of yet:
Giants receiver Victor Cruz, perhaps the greatest bargain in the NFL with his $490,000 salary, has been talking to the team about an extension and told reporters this week that a deal was getting close and a "structure" was in place. In fact, the sides still have considerable work to do before a deal is at hand, according to league sources, and at this point they are still trying to reach an agreement on many key elements of the deal.
Talks are amicable, and both Cruz and the Giants would like to resolve the matter before the end of the regular season. But the fact that New York could control Cruz's 2013 rights at a low cost via use of a first-round restricted free-agent tag complicates matters.
Obviously, the Giants want to lock up Cruz for a very long time. It may not happen shortly, but you can bet Cruz will get his extension at some point, likely before this offseason.
---End of Update---
The New York Giants wideout made his first splash during a 2010 preseason game in which he wore No. 3 and caught three touchdowns. The game was featured in HBO’s Hard Knocks—which was focusing on the New York Jets that season—and the microphones caught head coach Rex Ryan telling Tom Coughlin after the contest, "'I don't know who the (heck) No. 3 is, but holy (crap)!'" via Pro Football Weekly’s Eric Edholm.
Those familiar with Ryan know that the words in parentheses are toned down from the language that was actually used, and the Jets boss was not the last coach to use expletives because of Cruz. The 25-year-old wideout had his breakout season in 2011, catching 82 passes for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns.
He now has 52 catches for 650 yards and is tied for the NFL lead with seven touchdown catches. This production warrants a new deal.
Here is everything you need to know about the negotiations between Cruz and the Giants. Check back to this page for updates going forward.
Current Contract Terms
The Giants’ star wideout is in the final year of his rookie contract and currently making $540,000 a year. Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith notes that this is the league minimum for third-year players.
This makes Cruz one of the best bargains in the league, but the Giants will not want to doddle on getting a new deal done, as Cruz will be a restricted free agent following this season, as noted by Smith’s report.
The Giants found a gem at wide receiver and have been enjoying his services at a reduced rate. Now it is time to pay Cruz what he is worth.
CBS Sports’ Alex Raskin reported that Cruz has not set a “timetable for a contract, but he has previously said that he's hoping to sign before the end of the season.”
He appears to be getting his wish, and Ralph Vacchiano of The New York Daily News quoted Cruz in a radio interview on Tuesday, saying, “From what I hear, they’ve just agreed on the structure right now. And that’s all I’m at liberty to say.”
Given Cruz’s production, it is no surprise that there is a significant amount of mutual interest in keeping him a Giant.
Estimated Worth of Victor Cruz
CBS Sports’ Will Brinson reported that Wes Welker was seeking “$14-$15 million per year” this past offseason, and Cruz can point to his stats and make a legitimate case that he deserves this kind of money.
Welker was coming off a season in which he had 122 receptions, 1,569 yards and nine touchdowns. He did have significantly more receptions that Cruz, but the Giants wideout is also six years younger.
USA Today’s Mike Garafolo speculates that the Giants will “look to get him at an average of $10 million or so.” Given the interest in getting a deal done, meeting in the middle is a likely scenario and Cruz could realistically make around $12 million per season after signing a new deal.