Which New York Giant Receiver Should the Team Be Throwing Money At?
Victor Cruz, the salsa king of New York City, is an impending free agent, so obviously, re-signing him to a long-term deal is the top priority for the New York Giants this offseason.
Actually, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, it's not.
Even though Victor Cruz is now an RFA and Hakeem Nicks has one year left on deal, Giants have placed a higher priority on re-signing Nicks.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 3, 2013
Cruz or Nicks?
Talk about a dilemma.
Technically, the G-Men could re-sign both star wideouts, but with Cruz ready to hit the market, Schefter's report doesn't exactly sound like they're ready to hand out a mega contract to No. 80 anytime soon.
So, who should the Giants really be investing in?
Nicks is actually younger than Cruz (they're 25 and 26, respectively); however, both are clearly in the prime ages of their careers and should have plenty of solid football ahead of them.
Another common misconception is that Cruz is much smaller than Nicks—much of that has to do with Cruz's tendency to play in the slot while Nicks typically lines up on the perimeter.
Cruz is listed at 6'0'' and 204 pounds while Nicks is listed at 6'1'' and 208 pounds.
Quite the marginal discrepancy.
Does Nicks possess a more traditional "No. 1 receiver" skill set?
Then again, how truly important is a traditional No. 1 receiver in today's spread-heavy NFL?
We all know how Cruz burst onto the scene in 2011 with 82 catches for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns. But he backed up the breakout campaign with 86 receptions, 1,092 yards and ten touchdowns in 2012—frankly, he became much more of a well-rounded wideout, not solely a deep threat.
Nicks certainly wasn't bad in 2011 either.
He reeled in 76 passes from Eli Manning for 1,192 yards and seven scores.
During an injury-plagued 2012, a season in which he appeared in 13 games, Nicks totaled 53 grabs for 692 yards and three touchdowns.
From a pure production standpoint, the player in which the Giants should invest is obvious.
Also, upon digging a little deeper, Cruz seems like the more worthwhile option.
In 2011, Cruz caught 67.8 percent of the passes thrown his way while Nicks caught 59.4 per ProFootballFocus (subscription required).
This season, the disparity remained similar.
Who should the Giants' top priority be?
Cruz caught 62.8 percent of passes intended for him, while Nicks hauled in 55.2 percent of the tosses thrown in his direction.
Unquestionably, Cruz is a more efficient weapon for Manning.
Oh, and he doesn't have a history of nagging leg injuries.
As always, money will be the ultimate factor, and while Cruz and his agent are likely asking for "elite receiver" dollars, isn't it safe to assume Nicks will be requesting a major bump up from his five-year, $12.5 million rookie contract?
Cruz is more of a unique talent, a guy who can stretch any secondary with his speed while doubling as a chain-moving underneath receiver.
Though they'll likely have to cut a hefty check, the Giants should be investing in Victor Cruz.
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