With the dust yet to settle on a potential Victor Cruz contract with the New York Giants, one thing remains certain: a receiving corps with the 26-year-old Pro Bowl wideout could potentially be Eli Manning’s most dynamic set of targets in his 10-year career.
Although Cruz made an unimpressive base salary of $540,000 last season, he is looking to sign a long-term contract with the Giants. Instead of signing his first-round tender for 2013 and making $2.879 million, he will seek out a multi-year contract for over $7 million per season with significant money guaranteed.
Cruz, currently a restricted free agent, knows he deserves this kind of money and will likely get it. Over the last two seasons, he has recorded just eight yards per game less than Andre Johnson, who has the highest base salary ($9.5 million) out of all NFL wide receivers, and has scored 19 touchdowns to Johnson’s six.
While Cruz did not attend last week’s voluntary offseason workout program for the strength and conditioning phase, Giants co-owner John Mara remains optimistic that Cruz will be playing for New York this season.
Luckily for Giants fans, all signs point to Cruz remaining with the team. His agent, Tom Condon, also represented Osi Umenyiora last season, negotiating a restructured contract that paid Umenyiora more money and enabled him to become a free agent once the season ended.
Additionally, staying in New York would allow Cruz to continue his relationship with Jay-Z, which could lead to many new business and marketing opportunities.
If Cruz stays, Eli Manning will have a dangerous set of options to throw to. Aside from Cruz, Hakeem Nicks is on the path to a full recovery and could very well go for 75-plus catches and 1000-plus yards, as he did in 2010 and 2011. 2012 second-round pick Rueben Randle will also be ready for a much larger role in the offense this season, coming off of a solid rookie year.
Offseason addition Louis Murphy will add what GM Jerry Reese called a “deep threat”, and another offseason acquisition, tight end Brandon Myers, played the entire 2012 season with a sprained shoulder and recorded the fourth-most catches for tight ends.
With an exciting group of receivers, Manning could have one of his best seasons yet. And if he does, expect to see No. 80 in the same spot in the huddle as always.