Is Victor Cruz Underpaid?


Yesterday WR Victor Cruz did an interview in which he said he felt as if he was underpaid and insinuated that the only reason he accepted the deal to stay with the Giants was to stay close to home. So let’s examine the situation a bit more in depth.

Now I think most people would agree that Cruz handled his negotiations poorly. He made his desire to stay in NY well known which immediately gave the Giants even more leverage, something that they already had an abundance of because of Cruz’ status as a Restricted Free Agent. He switched agents during the process somehow getting mixed up somewhat in the whole Jay Z mix, which only led to him reiterating he did not want to leave NY. In doing so went from being the biggest priority for a small firm to just one of many names in a large firm.  He signed his RFA tender, a move some (not all) would have advised against, rather than threatening a holdout. At the end of the day many sources claimed that Cruz ended up signing the same deal the Giants had on the table for him the year before.

That being said, I can understand Cruz’ statements and part of the problem can be the management of expectations by advisors around him. When you look at the salary scales and see players like Mike Wallace earning $12 million a season you have to wonder why you are only making $8.6 million a season. Cruz’ problems, beyond what was outlined above, are that he is primarily a slot receiver and that he is an incredibly specialized slot receiver at that.

Slot receivers are paid far less than players on the outside. That’s just the way the game works. Comparing Cruz to Wallace is essentially the same as comparing Jimmy Graham to Wallace. The position is valued differently, because of expectations and difficulty in finding players to play the two receiving roles. Now the Seahawks burst the market for a player who most would typecast a slot receiver in Percy Harvin. While some may argue Harvin can do more than just catch, it’s really just an outlier of a contract.  The real market is much lower than Harvin.

There is no escaping the slot stigma for Cruz. There were only 21 players last season that had at least 300 routes of which at least 50% of them came in the slot. Cruz was one of them with about 70% of his routes coming in the slot. When lining up outside, Cruz numbers dramatically fell. As a slot target Cruz’ YPC average was 15. On the outside the YPC fell to 8. Cruz could argue that his numbers were better the year before but the counter from any team would be that nobody was prepared for Cruz and 2012 represents a more realistic performance. His only way to prove otherwise was to play the year out, which he was unwilling to do.

As a slot performer there were few more productive. On a yards per route basis only Randall Cobb of the Packers was slightly better. Cruz was 12% more productive than Wes Welker, third among slot players, and far more productive than anyone else at the position. He battled some drop problems but so did Welker and Cobb, so it’s not like Cruz was that terrible in that regard, something people make him out to be. I think it would be fair to say that based on two years of play none are better in the league who play in the slot. However, he is still just a slot receiver.

A difficulty for Cruz is that his skills are unique, something not that uncommon to the position. A player like Welker is typecast because he is short and plays in an offense with a superbly accurate QB that looked his way far more often than most would due to the lack of outside threats. Interest in Welker outside of New England was lukewarm. Cruz is just as specialized, simply in a different way.

Cruz plays with a QB who is going to the Hall of Fame and likes to throw the football down the field. Eli Manning is not the most accurate of players and meshes perfectly with Cruz who is not the most accurate of route runners. They work in an offense that is designed with that in mind and takes their fair share of chances with the football. Cruz isn’t going to fit in an offense with Christian Ponder or Alex Smith playing QB. He might not even fit with Tom Brady at this stage of Brady’s career.

Just as how Welker had problems, Cruz might have had similar ones in free agency. You need a stronger arm QB, an offense not afraid to let him use it, and an offense that doesn’t typecast its players, i.e. slot is a possession only receiver. Off the top of my head I would view the Colts, Ravens,  49’ers, Saints, and Cowboys as teams that would do that. Neither Dallas nor New Orleans have money to spend nor spots to fill. The Ravens would be hard pressed for cash as well so it’s a limited market. I’m sure some other teams would get in the mix too, but he likely isn’t a plug in anywhere player.

Cruz, at $8.6 million a year, is the highest paid slot receiver in the NFL. Miles Austin might be considered a slot player now (about 70% of his routes come from the slot, the same as Cruz last year) and makes $9 million a year, but when signed he was considered an outside threat. Cruz will earn about 18.5% more on an annual basis than Marques Colston of the Saints and 43% more than Welker.  While those players are both older than Cruz, who will be 28 when his extension years kick in (Colston was 29 during his season of signing and Welker will be 32 in his), Cruz’ deal is worth more money than both and Colston in particular has shown the ability to play a bit more on the outside as well.

The other players who fit into the slot category with Cruz simply don’t make that much money. Cobb will see a payday soon, but guys like Santana Moss and Reggie Wayne are at the end of their careers while names like Jeremy Kerley, Davone Bess, Emmanuel Sanders, etc… are all on low cost deals and none of whom will break the bank when they hit free agency (Bess already signed for under $3 million a year).

Maybe Cruz is a victim of circumstance and will prove he can do more than what he has been asked to do so far. If that is the case I think he will have a strong argument that he is underpaid. But for the player that he is now and job he is asked to do he is very close to the right number. If he and his team had been a little more difficult on the Giants he probably could have pushed beyond $9 million a season, but even then it’s not the mega dollars that it sounds like Cruz feels he should have gotten.    All told Cruz is pretty much right at what the market would be expected to pay for his services.



How Contract Extensions Differ from New Contracts


I received a question today concerning the treatment of the signing bonus on Victor Cruz’ contract and why it is prorated starting in 2013 rather than 2014 and doesn’t extend into the final year of the contract. It’s a great question and I thought might make for an informative post and something I’ll probably touch upon in a future video presentation as well. I’ll also look at why teams prefer the extension to simply waiting out a new contract.

The reporting about extensions and new contracts can be pretty confusing. I’ve been in that same boat many times myself in the past not understanding the differences. The basic job of the media is to report on whatever numbers they are told and sometimes something gets lost in translation. Yesterdays reports on Cruz clearly were confusing. At one point I read (and Im sorry but I cant recall where from) that Cruz received a 5 year extension worth$ 43 million and that his RFA contract would remain in place. Reports like that are easy to construe as meaning Cruz earns $2.879 million this year and the Giants don’t begin payment on a new deal until 2014. That is not correct.

An in-season contract extension is different than a brand new contract signed in free agency.  An extension can be looked at as a deal containing two separate contracts. For Cruz there is a $43 million dollar extension and a $2.879 million one year contract. But the contracts for cap and cash flow purposes do not run one after the other as it would if Cruz played out his year on the RFA contract and then re-signed with the Giants.  The contracts operate in tandem with one another with the $2.879 million being built into a 6 year period worth $45.879 million.

The extension benefits both sides. In Cruz’ case he will earn a $9.5 million dollar signing bonus and $630,000 base salary in 2013 according to Pro Football Talk. That represents a $7.25 million dollar raise for Cruz, essentially a large prepayment on the extension. So Cruz benefits from the money now rather than later. The Giants, on the other hand, benefit from the ability begin prorating a signing bonus immediately thus limiting their dead money hits on the contract since the CBA only allows proration for a 5 year maximum period.

The dead money is of the utmost importance for a player like Cruz and the Giants situation. Cruz is a gamebreaking type of talent. He isn’t a great route runner with great hands. He’s a burner that runs away from people. Normally that type of play declines with age and last year Cruz’ numbers were already way down.

The Giants are also dealing with a QB who is going to be 32 this season. While there is no reason to think that Eli Manning is going anywhere anytime soon, it is not impossible to consider that his game will need to change as he gets older.  Manning will be a free agent when turns 35. Again it’s doubtful he leaves but a lot can happen in 3 years. You don’t want to be saddled with overpriced receivers that may no longer fit the skillset of the QB of offensive direction of the team.

From a dead money perspective here is what the Giants would be looking at with Cruz under the accepted structure and the same cash flow system but with the contract beginning in 2014.


Manning Age

Cruz Age

Dead Money Actual

Cap Savings Actual

Dead Money New Contract

Cap Savings New











































So what you have in the accepted structure is a situation where the Giants can begin to get leverage to take paycuts in 2015 or to simply walk away with no damage in 2016, especially if that year Eli does not stay in New York. Every year thereafter becomes more and more difficult for Cruz to earn the reported money.

By signing Cruz to an extension the Giants could walk away in 2015 having just paid him $15.53 million for two years. If the deal began in 2014 he would be guaranteed a spot thru 2015 with the Giants paying just over $21 million to Cruz for 3 years. The Giants would get some leverage with Cruz in 2016 with the real leverage beginning in 2017, when he would be 31 and Manning 36. So in terms of flexibility the Giants receive a tremendous amount of cap flexibility by getting this deal done now rather than simply holding off until 2014.

Victor Cruz Signs Extension: PFT With Contract Details


Victor Cruz and the New York Giants finally came to terms today on a 5 year contract extension worth about $43 million. The $8.6 million APY puts Cruz’ contract firmly in line with the slot receiver market something he had likely been hoping to break away from in light of the position busting contract paid to Percy Harvin in Seattle. Cruz may have been able to negotiate a better deal had he not made it so widely known that he had every intention of staying with the Giants throughout the RFA process.

Pro Football Talk had the particulars of the contract detailing the cash flows. Using PFTs numbers I was able to build a cap chart for Cruz. I also included $400,000 in workout bonuses to make the numbers match the various reports. We should have the accurate numbers on Tuesday or Wednesday but these should be pretty close.

It is a very solid deal for New York. Cruz’ cap number this year will actually fall by about $349,000 and only be $7.3 million in 2014.  While it is not known if 2015 contains rolling guarantees of some sort, as it stands now Cruz could be cut after only 2 years for a cost of just $5.7 million in cap. His cash earnings over the two year period are $15.53 million which would represent about a $2.3 million or so raise for Cruz compared to playing the RFA/Franchise player game that may have occurred over the 2013 and 2014 seasons.  In turn the Giants will create about an additional $3.5 million in cap room over the next two years by doing the extension.Cruz’ cap hits should not balloon until 2016 at which point he can be released for just $3.8 million in dead money, putting Cruz in a position where he has to maintain his performance level to earn the contract. 

View Victor Cruz’ Salary Cap Charges

Planning Wide Receiver Dollar and Draft Spending


In doing the best and worst contract articles and then re-hashing yesterday some old thoughts on Mike Wallace I thought what might be interesting was to look at just how important a WR is to a specific offense when deciding to throw money at them. Normally I would just look at WR targets for this but with the TE’s in the news in New England I thought I would include them as well.

Wide Receivers cost a hefty sum in this market. When you sign one of them for a large value and expect them to become some type of incredible upgrade you need to know if you are getting a true number 1 or a piece to a puzzle. A true number 1 is someone who has proven that they can be the lone dominant target on a football team and still succeed. Being a cog in the offensive wheel and then being expected to handle 30-35% of the targets on a team is unrealistic. If the player doesn’t have the track record of doing so, you need to plan on allocating more money or draft picks to the position to get the best out of the free agent.

The average top target on a team in the NFL in 2012 was 29.1%. 17 players qualified above that number. Only two of the 17 were primarily slot receivers (Victor Cruz and Wes Welker) and only 1 Tight End made the cut (Jimmy Graham). The low total for a top target was 19.3%, which was the number for Josh Morgan of the Redskins. The high was Brandon Marshall of the Bears with 48.2% of their receiver targets, showing either how bad the Bears WR corps. are or how little QB Jay Cutler trusts anyone on that team.

But as we look further into the numbers its important to identify the help that the player receives. For that we look at the separation between the top receiver on a team and the second most targeted receiver on a team. If the gap is large I have more confidence that we have a player who can perform in a number 1 role on a team.  The average result for the top player on each team was a 7.5% differential.

In this case only 13 players qualified. Again top of the chart was Marshall with 35.9% more targets than Earl Bennett. The most surprising name in the top was Jeremy Kerley of the Jets. He was only targeted 95 times and it was likely more of a reflection of how bad the Jets passing game was than anything else. The least impactful top target was Graham with only 1.1% more targets than the next highest on the Saints.

If you combine the two qualifiers you can get the group of players who were given what I would consider elite treatment last season. These are the players I would feel most comfortable signing to be the primary target on my team and not worrying as much about the downside of the move. I know they can perform without the great assistance other players will get.


This list is very different than top receiving yards. Gone from that list are Dez Bryant, Vincent Jackson, Demaryius Thomas, Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Marquez Colston. That doesn’t mean that these players are not true number 1’s just that I would have more reservations about them if I were to sign them as a free agent and my next best option is Early Doucet. When you are the primary target like this a team knows that not only is the ball coming your way 1 out of every 3 chances but also that there is nobody else significant they need to worry about. It changes the way you play defense and makes it far more difficult on a receiver.

For the less productive players from a yardage standpoint, who would be Dwayne Bowe, Larry Fitzgerald, Stevie Johnson, and maybe Cruz and Michael Crabtree, my attention needs to go first to the QB and then to the team. If the QB is good (only Cruz’ is as Crabtree only played a handful of games with Kaepernick) then I may want to improve the players around him. Maybe a little too much is being asked of him. In Cruz’ case this is mitigated if Hakeem Nicks could stay healthy for 16 games. For the others I need to make a QB change first rather than jumping on the WR train.

Using a chart like this isn’t going to tell you who to sign or who not to sign its just a way to help better plan for your future. If Miles Austin for example has never shown the ability to be the man in an offense I am taking an incredible risk by paying him $11 million a year to come to say Minnesota. The day I make that decision to do that I also am making a decision to likely invest at least one of my top two draft picks on a Wide Receiver and also bringing in a 1A type that can be productive and demand 20% of the passes thrown his way. Very quickly my allocation needs to move from $11 million to $19 million plus a draft pick.

But if I sign Bowe for $11 million and have a decent QB I can probably get by with lesser players around him. I may not need to waste that draft pick any more. I might be able to avoid the secondary star. That $11 million is probably going to turn to $16 million or stay around $11 million and I’ll allocate a draft choice instead. I may be able to get two low cost players to pair with Bowe whereas Austin needs two higher priced ones. This is a piece of planning that will spiral into disaster if not followed by a team.

Of this list the two interesting situations will be those created by Crabtree and Welker. Crabtree was likely lost for the season giving the 49’ers nothing to fall back on. They acquired Anquan Boldin (25.8%), but Boldin was one of three highly targeted players in Baltimore. Vernon Davis was only targeted 16.7% of the time. It is a very different situation in Baltimore than San Francisco which leaves Boldin in what could be a bad situation with Crabtree out.

Its similar in New England.  They replaced Welker with Danny Amendola. Amendola was a 22.5% target last year which was 4.2% higher than the next player. That may be better than it appears since he did miss 4 games last year, though the productivity was low. The Patriots approach here is clear- blame the QB. But they have also seen changes to their corps replacing Brandon Lloyd (23.6%) and Aaron Hernandez (15.1%) with Michael Jenkins (18.6%), Donald Jones (16.8%),  and Jake Ballard (DNP).  Both Jenkins and Jones are going to be looked at as QB upgrades improving numbers, one of which will be asked to fill Lloyds shoes.

In terms of salary, half of the top 10 highest priced players did not make the list. They include Percy Harvin(injured), Wallace (26.4%/2.9%), Vincent Jackson (30.2%/4.3%), DeSean Jackson (17.4%, -6.7%), and Miles Austin (22.1%,-5.4%).  V. Jackson is probably in the perfect situation in Tampa with Mike Williams (25.9%) doing just enough to help him.  Wallace is going to go to Miami and pair with Hartline and Dustin Keller, who should be able to replicate the Steelers formula of 3 players with 20% looks. He will likely need that to succeed. DeSean Jackson could easily be released next year if he continues to underperform.

The June 15 Tender and Victor Cruz


One of those smaller rules in the NFL that very few people know about or, at the very least discuss, is the June 15 tender date for Restricted Free Agents that have yet to sign with their club. A RFA has a signing period in which he is able to negotiate with other teams. Once that deadline passes, usually a week before the NFL draft, the RFA is no longer truly free as his exclusive negotiating rights are assigned to the team that tendered him. This is done to avoid lengthy holdouts from a situation where a player really has no leverage.

The June 15 date is essentially the date on which an NFL team can impose a financial penalty on a RFA despite the fact that the player is not technically under contract. WR Victor Cruz received a first round tender  worth $2.879 million from  the New York Giants that he has failed to sign. On June 15 the Giants have the option to withdraw that offer and offer a new contract worth 110% of Cruz’ 2012 salary. Because Cruz only played for the minimum last season, $540,000, the 110% offer is actually lower that the required minimum salary so the Giants would need to offer Cruz $630,000.

If the Giants make this move Cruz potentially will lose $2.249 million in pay if the two sides can not come to terms on a contract and Cruz is forced to play on the June 15 tender.  That does not mean the two sides can no longer work out a contract, but it puts Cruz’ in a significantly worse position and could strain the relationship between the two sides especially if the Giants consider applying the franchise tag on Cruz next season and force him to play out his contract at $630,000. Nothing forces the Giants to make the June 15 tender and they can chose to leave the situation as it, but the Giants do get immediate cap relief once the offer is withdrawn and the new tender made.

If the June 15 tender is made the next dates to look at come during the preseason if Cruz fails to report to camp. At that point the Giants could place him on a roster exempt status which would limit the amount of games he could play during the season. If Cruz failed to report before week 11 he would be ineligible to play in 2013 and the Giants would retain his rights next season.

I tend to think because of the strange Percy Harvin dynamic in Seattle that there could be a large disconnect between the Giants valuation of Cruz and Cruz’ valuation of himself.  Normally slot receivers are paid at far lower rates than their outside counterparts but Harvin broke the mold with the lucrative extension he signed after being traded from Minnesota a few months ago.  Cruz has been very productive the last two years and can easily argue that he should be worth that much money, but it is hard to fathom more teams committing salary close to that level for a slot player, even one with the game breaking ability Cruz has.

Though these situations are rare I can think of three June 15 tenders in recent years where the players were forced to accept the low tender. In 2010, the uncapped year, a number of players who believed that were going to be Unrestricted Free Agents were actually RFA’s. The Chargers’ Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeil and Patriots’ Logan Mankins were all players who fit into that category and resisted the notion of playing on the RFA tender. Both the Chargers and the Patriots removed the higher priced tender and replaced it with the June 15 tender. Jackson’s salary was reduced  to $682,000, McNeils to $630,000, and Mankins’ to $1.54 million. Each had been scheduled to make $3.268 million.

The Chargers were granted exemptions on both McNeil and Jackson making them ineligible to play for 3 weeks after they reported back to the team. McNeil returned to active duty in week 5, Mankins in week 8, and Jackson in week 10. McNeil’s situation ended amicably with the two sides agreeing on a contract extension worth close to $45 million dollars upon his activation in week 5. Jackson and Mankins were both given the franchise tag the following season. Mankins signed a long term contract with New England once the lockout ended while Jackson played the season out on the franchise tag before signing with the Buccaneers in 2012.

So the next few days may represent a real important period for Victor Cruz and the Giants. If that June 15 tender is made it could signal a very long summer. If the Giants allow the date to come and go it means they are probably going to continue to be accommodating to Cruz while they work on a contract with the next crucial dates coming during the Preseason.


The Giants Restructure the Contract of David Diehl; Freeing up space for…


Jenny Vrentas of the Newark Star Ledger again gets the jump on a Giants contract with her report of David Diehl accepting a massive paycut to remain on the team in 2013. The move saves the Giants at least $3.475 million in cap room.

It should be no surprise that the Giants are restructuring contracts to gain cap relief. While I dont yet have the deals for David Carr (minimum salary benefit contract) and Kevin Boothe (likely a minimum salary benefit contract) uploaded the Giants only had an estimated $1.25 million in cap room prior to those deals being signed. Factoring those contracts in would probably put New York at just $800,000 in cap room, second worst in the NFL to only the Dallas Cowboys, prior to Diehl’s paycut.

The Giants are also in a somewhat unique situation in that they have a superstar Restricted Free Agent sitting out there in Victor Cruz. Now that the dust has settled in free agency and the cap situations of teams has become more clear the Giants need to be proactive in protecting their interest in Cruz. The Giants need to be aware of the possibility, no matter how slim, that a team can jump in at the last minute and make Cruz an offer that is difficult for the Giants to match.

Once an offer sheet is signed by a RFA the prior team has 5 days to match the offer. With the Giants cap situation the way it is reworking so many deals in a 5 day span to match a frontloaded offer sheet for Cruz could prove difficult. With an additional $3.5 million in cap room plus the $2.89 million in space already allocated to Cruz, the Giants can now match an offer sheet up to $6.35 million in year 1 cap money without worrying about restructuring another deal. With the cap as tight as it is that eliminates over half the league from even considering the move.

Additionally this now gives the Giants a base number in year 1 cap space to really work with as they try to work out an offer to extend Cruz themselves.I would think in a negotiation it is far better to work with real numbers rather than hypotheticals. A player accepting a paycut is a big hypothetical so having that complete is big for both sides.  It gives the two sides a number to work with and one the Giants will likely paint as a maximum value with other restructures being earmarked to sign the rookie class.

Stevie Brown also signed a contract with the team the other day. Brown was set to count for just over $2 million as a 2nd round tendered RFA. Terms of that deal have not been made public but it would not surprise me if the signed contract is less than $2 million in cap. I would expect the Giants to look into reworking the contracts of Chris Snee and Antrel Rolle before approaching Eli Manning for further cap relief. Because of Manning’s high cap charges in 2014 and 2015 any restructures in 2013 could make those seasons very difficult to deal with without a full blown extension. With the salary cap barely rising and QB contracts escalating so fast teams like the Giants and Steelers may wait as long as possible to extend their star QB’s. With Aaron Rodgers set to be a free agent in 2015 and the Packers having a reputation of being very tough negotiators, teams may see that contract as an opportunity to set the market straight before accepting the Joe Flacco contract as the new reality.


A Look at the Slot Receiver


This was an interesting week for the slot receiver. You had the Seahawks pay a massive price for Percy Harvin while the prolific, but much older, Wes Welker had trouble finding a job.  Meanwhile Welker was replaced by the younger Danny Amendola while Victor Cruz twists in the wind hoping someone will bite despite his restricted free agent status. So I figured why not go ahead and take a closer look at these players, Cruz’ contract, and examine the Amendola for Welker swap that has agitated a number of New England fans and made countless others scratch their head at the move.

Slot Performance

To start with I wanted to examine each players stats when they line up in the slot. For Harvin and Welker these are 3 year averages while for Cruz and Amendola it is just 2. The NFL averages are a 3 year average for all players with at least 25% slot targets as reported by Pro Football Focus.


Out of the group Amendola lined up in the slot an incredible 82.9% of the time. The league average for slot players with at least 25% of snaps in the slot was around 55% so he has almost no use anywhere else on the field. That was far higher than Welker’s 74.4% of the snaps. In terms of targeting there was little difference. Amendola saw the ball come his way slightly over 28% of the time he lined up in the slot, which is slightly higher than Welker at 26.4%. Harvin was the lowest at 25.2%. 19% of the time the slot guy gets the football.

The catch and drop rates, which kind of go hand in hand, in the slot are the first signs of some differences. Harvin had the best catch and lowest drop rate of the group. Amendola and Welker had nearly identical catch rates but the drop rate for Welker is much higher than average and far higher than Amendola’s. Part of the reason the catch rate for Welker is so good is because of Brady. I could see that being a factor in the replacement as there could be a feeling that Amendola will have a catch rate well above Welker’s in this offense. Cruz is around average in catches and well below average in drops. He does run deeper patterns however.


I think these are the categories that upset the New England fan about losing Welker. Amendola’s actual production once he catches the ball is terrible. He is below the league average in both YPC and YPT. The excuse of Sam Bradford only goes so far.  For the Patriots to consider him a replacement they are making the leap of faith that Bradford is the only reason his production when catching the ball was so bad.  Interestingly enough three players were all below the league average in YPC. Victor Cruz is in his own universe as a slot player. Now the Giants play their offense different than other teams but the production is outrageous. If you are going to run a down the field attack offense he is the guy you need. As a possession receiver I think you can make a strong argument for both Harvin and Welker.

Outside Performance

Can these players bring anything outside of the slot?  Lets look.


When lining up outside Amendola has the lowest percent of passes caught though in this case the QB he was working with likely makes more of a difference since these are most likely more difficult passes. Both he and Harvin has big drops in their catch efficiency- 11.1% for Amendola and 7.0% for Harvin- compared to the other two. Cruz actually caught a slightly higher percent of passes when lining up outside than he did in the slot. Welker’s drop rate of 11.7% would be alarming.


This was the one area where Harvin stood out with a higher effectiveness in both YPT and YPC when lining up outside. He is the player who lines up on the outside the most and the numbers give reason to play that way. He is a more effective player on the outside and the Seahawks must be banking on him playing there more often and putting up far better numbers with a better QB. Welker and Amendola would both be a notch below, though the two were similar in effectiveness.

Who Would You Choose And At What Price?

Not taking age into account it is hard to see a real clear reason why the Patriots would take an often injured Amendola over Welker. Even when you factor in age the Patriots are a win now team not a win in 3 years team. Amendola is probably going to be less effective on the outside than Welker and its hard to see Brady having such an incredible effect that his yards in the slot would skyrocket up. The one thing that New England may have taken into account is the high number of drops from Welker. He had the famous one in the Super Bowl and while that was not a great pass it was one a great receiver should make. If the Patriots think they are getting somebody more versatile than Welker I don’t see any justification for that line of thinking. That being said I think the numbers do paint a pretty clear picture of why many said Welker is a system receiver that would be much more pedestrian outside of New England.

Of this grouping Cruz is the best receiver and it is by a wide margin. It makes the negotiations interesting for him and the Giants. Harvin’s new money is more than $12.5 million year and he received that in exactly the same contractual situation as Cruz, with his rights held up at under $3 million a season.  Prior to that contract I would have assumed that the Giants and Cruz would be working off the base of someone like Marques Colston and determining a value over his $7.25 million a year deal, likely settling between $9 and 10. Harvin’s deal changes everything and gives Cruz a reason to at least seek $13 million a year.

While there is a clear market correction going on around the NFL, most likely because of the ultra high investments in a team QB, Wide Receiver has not been impacted. If anything it has gotten stronger with the deals given to Harvin, Mike Wallace, and Dwayne Bowe. I don’t think Cruz can convince the Giants that he deserves that money now. The Steelers held firm on Wallace last season and Cruz has only had two years in the NFL of note. They will want to see a third. My guess is they will also argue that Harvin is an outlier and to just eliminate the deal from the equation.

In many ways I can see Cruz’ future being tied in with Harvins. If Harvin plays well this season lining up mainly in the slot there will be a number of teams that jump of Cruz as a UFA next season, assuming Cruz has another 1000+ yard season. The NFL is a copycat league and if they see a trend heading that way teams will jump on it. If Harvin does not play well that will be justification for not over-spending on Cruz and tie him in with the rest of the slot market.