Victor Cruz and Giants Butt Heads Over Contract

Jenny Vrentas of the Newark Star Ledger has an update on the latest contract negotiations or lack thereof between the New York Giants and star WR Victor Cruz. The piece right now that I found of most interest was this tidbit:

Asked if Cruz’s asking price is unreasonable, Mara said, “Well, right now, but that’s his agent. But that’s what agents do, and we’ve got a lot of time to work something out, and hopefully we’ll be able to come together.

Cruz is in an interesting situation in that the Giants still control his rights to some extent because he only has 3 years of service in the NFL. As a restricted free agent the Giants have the right to tender Cruz a contract worth up to $2.879 million in non-guaranteed base salary for the 2013 League Year. If another team signs Cruz to an offer sheet the Giants can either match the offer sheet or decline to match and receive a first round pick in return for losing Cruz in free agency. Because the price is so steep rarely do we ever see RFA’s sign with other football teams. So clearly the Giants have negotiating leverage in this case.

There are two things that work against Cruz when it comes to getting a high priced extension from the Giants, IMO. One is that the historical precedence as it relates to the RFA tag is that Cruz will not be able to sign a deal with any of the 31 other teams. Mike Wallace of the Pittsburgh Steelers faced that same dilemma last season when he unsuccessfully tried to find a new home with the RFA tag hanging over his head. Wallace refused to sign his tender and missed almost all of the summer due to his unhappiness with having settle for a 1 year contract worth $2.742 million. Wallace had his worst year since his rookie season and likely damaged his free agency value in 2013. In hindsight he may have been better off signing a contract extension with the Steelers last season or at least reporting to camp on time. These are lessons for Cruz.

When Mara discusses high asking prices another issue that Cruz has to deal with may be the fact that he plays as a slot receiver rather than an outside role. While most people do not pay attention to that it seems to have a significant effect on the paydays received by players. When you look at your premier slot receivers such as Marques Colston of the Saints or Wes Welker of the Patriots their pay is not really in line with their production. Colston ranks close to 20th at the position in salary worth a base value of $7.26 million per year despite year after year 1,000 yard seasons. Welker has been unable to find a long term contract solution from the Patriots. In contrast Vincent Jackson, who puts up around the same yards per year as Colston and less than Welker, received a contract worth over $11 million dollars a season, 4th in the NFL, with $26 million in guarantees. While nobody has hinted at what the starting price that Cruz’ agent is, you can rest assured if its close to Jackson money the Giants are likely going to hang up the phone as soon as they receive the offer.

All in all it makes for an interesting negotiation between the two sides, one in which the Giants hold almost all the leverage to force a deal to happen more to their liking than Cruz’.