The Giants and Cruz must find a way to stick together.
Mara says Giants have made Cruz "a very substantial offer" that "would make him a very wealthy young man." His agent wants to test market.— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoNYDN) March 11, 2013
In addition, Cruz was hit with a first-round tender per Will Brinson of CBS Sports:
That means Cruz could potentially be poached by another team, if that team gives Cruz an offer sheet above what the Giants are willing to match. In that instance, the Giants would also receive a first-round pick from whoever offered him the contract.
The Giants owner also said, however, that he "wouldn't be surprised" if someone signed Cruz to an offer sheet in free agency and that the Giants would be willing to see him walk.
It's an interesting debacle regarding leverage as well.
Without Victor Cruz, are the Giants a playoff team?
Should Cruz end up elsewhere, the Giants would get a first-round selection. And although the receiving talent of the 2013 NFL draft does not provide anyone like Julio Jones or A.J. Green, targets such as Cordarrelle Patterson and Tavon Austin are quite appealing.
One minute issue, though, is the potential pool of teams willing to give up a first-round pick.
Anyone else looking to draft a receiver in Round 1 would be reaching, so expect more wideouts to get taken in Round 2.
The other side of the coin is New York potentially losing its best receiver.
Cruz has accounted for 2,628 receiving yards on 268 receptions, including 19 touchdowns and a victory in Super Bowl XLVI. Through the past two seasons, no one else in Eli Manning's receiving corps has provided such an immediate impact.
Include 269 yards on 21 catches and one score in the 2011 postseason, and Cruz's experience is virtually irreplaceable. His ability to win versus man coverage, split Cover 2 zones downfield and compile yards after the catch is a rarity.
Cruz is Manning's security blanket, and the offense would not move the rock as consistently without him. All this said, a recent slot receiver signing isn't expected to help Cruz as ESPN.com's Dan Graziano writes:
[Wes] Welker's deal is not going to help Cruz get what he wants from the Giants.
If their [the Giants] current offer to Cruz is for more than $6 million per season, they can ask him, "Why should you make more than Welker?" if it's less, they can ask him, "Why should you make as much as Welker?"
Giants coach Tom Coughlin and owner John Mara have both voiced frustration within the past couple of weeks over the refusal of Cruz to accept what they feel is a generous offer. Cruz has changed agents, which of course indicates dissatisfaction with the way negotiations were going.
Factor in other conference teams such as the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints that feature high-powered offenses, and the Giants have to retain Cruz to remain NFC playoff contenders.
Obviously getting a first-rounder in exchange would allow for another area to be addressed early in the draft. However, Cruz is already an established player and has built chemistry in New York's offense.
It's a win-win situation should he suit up for Big Blue in 2013, because the Giants can't afford to be inconsistent as we saw throughout 2012.