The salsa dance over a long-term contract between Victor Cruz and the New York Giants is over.
After signing his one-year tender worth $2.879 million, USA Today reports that the Giants and Cruz agreed on a five-year contract worth $43 million– a total of $45.879 million over six years, with $15.6 million guaranteed.
The contract doesn’t make Cruz one of the highest paid receivers in the NFL, but it does make him one of the top slot receivers in the NFL, behind Percy Harvin and his six -year $67 million contract with the Seattle Seahawks and it makes him the highest paid receiver in Giants history.
This agreement should appease both G-Men faithful as well as Cruz’ skeptics. Because Cruz is guaranteed $15.6 million starting next season, it means Cruz is guaranteed $2.6 million each year, which is less than the tender he signed last month. Also, it puts him among receivers such as Harvin, Andre Johnson, DeSean Jackson, Miles Austin, and Malcolm Floyd who range from $2.6 million to $3 million, which puts Cruz in good company with other elite receivers. The deal allows Cruz to still play at a high level and pays him the money he deserves. He’ll be able to stay in New York as well and quiet his critics there.
Nevertheless, the Giants still need to sign draft picks Justin Pugh and Ryan Nassib. Currently, the Giants have $3.3 million available in cap space including Cruz’ tender, but that number can change given the full structure of Cruz’ deal. Also, the Giants still have to take next year into consideration when Hakeem Nicks enters free agency.
For Nicks, this season will determine that fate. Cruz earned his money by remaining healthy and produced beyond expectations. Yet, you can give partial credit to Nicks for helping with that because his presence alone allowed Cruz to become a target for Manning during their Super Bowl season and last season. Nicks has proven to be a bit injury prone so that could hurt his stock, but if he stays healthy, produces at a high rate consistent with Cruz and Randle, then the Giants will be forced to re-sign him.
The receiving core of Cruz, Nicks, and Randle is looking to be very dangerous and if Nicks stays healthy and Randle breaks out, don’t expect Jerry Reese to let Nicks go next year. It is clear the Giants look to these three as their future alongside Manning and with a new running tandem in David Wilson and Andre Brown, expectations are high for this receiving core to produce.
Speaking of Reese, kudos to him for giving Cruz a fair contract. Many believed Cruz and Reese were both playing hardball, but as Cruz’ cryptic tweet alluded to on July 1st, “good things come to those who wait.” Reese waited and created a deal both fair to Cruz and the Giants organization. Cruz is now the highest-paid wide receiver in New York Giants history, but at a very reasonable price and a good amount of time.
What’s the next move for Cruz? A nice salsa dance to celebrate a new contract wouldn’t hurt.