The long wait is over; Victor Cruz will officially suit up for the New York Giants after signing his free agent tender today. He’ll make just short of $3 million this season, making him one of the best bargains in the NFL. The Pro Bowl wide receiver has taken the league by storm these past two seasons, and while he certainly deserves to be paid more, let’s not label him the underpaid victim just yet.
First of all, the only reason he signed his tender is because after today, the Giants could have reduced his tender down to a meager $600,000. Not wanting to get screwed out of that money, Cruz went ahead and took that extra $2.3 million, roughly. That’s a pretty smart decision.
Also, it’s not like the Giants are going to stop trying to sign him to a long term deal. They still want him around. If Cruz is still looking for upwards of $10 million, this could be his final season in New York. The Giants are just not going to pay that much money for a glorified slot receiver.
Yes, Cruz is one of the premier deep threats in the league, but he’s not and never will be a true No. 1 receiver. Without Hakeem Nicks drawing all sorts of attention, Cruz could not be as effective. This is why the team reportedly made Nicks the top priority this offseason. I’m not going to sit here and say Cruz is replaceable, but Steve Smith, who caught 109 passes for the Giants in 2009, just retired this off season after flaming out with the Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams.
Fans went after Jerry Reese‘ head when the team let Smith go but it was clearly the right move. Cruz is in for a serious wakeup call if he thinks there is a team out there that will pay him $10 million a season. He should count his lucky stars the Giants are willing to go as high as they are, considering they rarely break the bank for a wide receiver.
I may be being a bit harsh on the player who set the single season franchise record for receiving yards, but his success has as much to do with the team as it does his individual talent. I hope he realizes that so the Giants can make him a Giant for life.
P.S. I have two jerseys of Cruz (home & away) sitting in my closet right now. I’m not a hater, just a realist.