As explained by Spiegs, the move means that the Giants have essentially put a franchise tag on Cruz—which is estimated to earn Cruz $2.9 million in the upcoming season.
The only difference is that he can still receive offers from other teams, though the Giants can match those deals. If Cruz does leave for another team, New York will receive compensation in the form of a first-round draft pick.
During an interview with the media Monday, Giants' team president and CEO John Mara was quoted by Mike Garafolo of USA Today as saying:
Certainly, we're taking a risk. But we would still have to right to match, and if we decided not to do that, we're getting a first-round draft pick out of it.
So yeah, it is a risk for us, and he is an exciting, dynamic player. It's not going to shock me if somebody makes him an offer.
Listen, he's been a great player for us. Like we do with all of our players, there's a limit as to how far we're going to go on a contract. You have to pay 53 (players), and if the money goes over that limit, we have to make a decision. But we feel we're in a good position now. We've tendered him.
In the same article, Garafolo reports that Cruz has also changed agents.
Cruz could have an easier time soliciting outside offers now, informing USA TODAY Sports that he's hired super agent Tom Condon, who also represents Giants quarterback Eli Manning and linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka. Condon has successfully negotiated deals keeping both of them in New York.
Newsday's Tom Rock also quoted Mara on Twitter as saying:
Cruz has led the Giants in receiving yards each of the last two seasons, and he has emerged as the No. 1 option on offense for Eli Manning.
Because of the necessary compensation needed for to sign Cruz, chances are he stays put. This will help secure his spot in New York for one more year, while giving the Giants' brass time to work out a long-term extension for the dynamic wideout.
It's a win-win situation overall, unless of course another NFL team does bite and provides an asking price the Giants are unwilling to match.
When asked last week about the future of Cruz, Giants coach Tom Coughlin was quoted as saying:
He’s a great kid, he’s local. It’s been a marvelous thing to see this story evolve here as a New York Giant. I don’t wanna see it change and I’m hoping that his people feel the same way.
For now it looks like Coughlin will get his wish, though this RFA tag makes things far from certain.