With the 11:59:59 Friday deadline officially passed, Victor Cruz is no longer a restricted free agent. But that doesn't make him a Giant, as the two teams have yet to come to a deal.
For both parties, there are clear reasons to be hesitant. Cruz is aware that with another big season, he can make much more money than the Giants are offering (which is around $7 million per year). The Giants realize that Cruz has two options: sign with the Giants or sit out.
An argument can be made that Cruz is more valuable in New York than on any other team. He's a pure slot receiver, who thrives with a bigger target (in the Giants' case, Hakeem Nicks) lining up opposite of him. While he's put together two great seasons, scouts believe he is hesitant of going over the middle until he gets a long-term deal.
There are a few extraneous factors that must be accounted for, one being Cruz's numerous endorsement opportunities. He is well aware that he will make more money off the field in New York than he will in any other market. So does his new agent, Jay-Z, a New Yorker who most likely will advise his client to stick in New York.
Few know that Cruz also is an owner of a fashion company called Young Whales, and with New York being one of the fashion hubs of America, he'd be making a tough decision against his company.
Originally of Paterson, New Jersey, where most of his family and friends still live, Cruz would also be leaving home. Simply put, there are a lot of people who will be begging Cruz to stay close by.
For the Giants, offering Cruz anything longer than a one-year deal has its pros and cons. On the pro side, the Giants will lock up an elite receiver and a fan favorite long-term. By doing this, regardless of if they're able to re-sign Hakeem Nicks next offseason, the Giants will still have one top receiver for Eli Manning to throw to.
What Will Victor Cruz decide to do?
On the con side, money to Cruz is money somebody else won't be getting, and the Giants need to find money in the salary cap to give to Cruz. On top of that, with Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle already on the roster, the Giants may not feel that Cruz is a necessary investment.
Besides that, the Giants have several other holes to fill, including an average offensive line, a middling linebacker corps, and a front four that could lose Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck in back-to-back years should the Giants defensive captain walk after next season.
Despite having a very strong follow-up to his breakout 2011 season, Cruz's 1,092 yards were a steep drop off from his 1,536 yards the year before, and was a sign that defenses were keying in on his play-breaking abilities.
While Nicks' size probably makes him the receiver with more upside, his constant injuries make him a tough long-term investment with still a year on his contract. The Giants will let him play out his contract, and see if he can finally avoid the injury bug, and put together a Pro Bowl season.
Cruz's true worth is closer to what the Giants are offering rather than what Cruz is asking. My guess is the Giants and Cruz agree on a five-year/$40 million offer, with $25 million guaranteed, which is slightly higher than the Giants current offer. Don't be surprised if Cruz and Nicks receive identical deals, as the Giants won't have to deal with the question of prioritizing one receiver over the other.