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By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)
The New York Giants got some good news Friday afternoon as they learned that Victor Cruz was going to report to the team facility and sign his one-year restricted free agent tender. Cruz was tagged with a first-round restricted free agent tender and the deal is worth $2.879 million. The news was first reported by ESPN’s Josina Anderson via her twitter account. Anderson talked to Cruz earlier Friday and said that he told her, “I’m going to sign my tender today and will continue talks for a long-term deal before camp starts.”
A factor in Cruz’s decision making was that the Giants could drop his tender to $630,000 if he had not signed the $2.879 million tender Monday, even though there was no indication that was a path the Giants were going to go down. This is only the first hurdle that needed to be jumped as the two sides will continue to try and hash out a long term deal. They are coming closer to terms but Cruz is still standing firm that he will not accept anything less than $9 million annually.
Because of that gap in the contract talks there is still a chance that Cruz does not report to camp and will hold out until he gets the deal that he wants. If Cruz chooses to take this route it will cost him $30,000 in fines that the Giants would be able to levy against him. Cruz has every right to hold out if he chooses so as it does not take much for an NFL player to see their careers go down the drain; just look at another former Giants wide receiver in Steve Smith who retired recently after not being able to come back from injuries after leaving the Giants.
The 26-year old Cruz has quickly become a crowd favorite of Giants fans after coming out of obscurity as an undrafted free agent from the University of Massachusetts in 2010. Cruz had a monster preseason in 2010, leading the NFL with 297 yards but was placed on Injured Reserve after five games with a hamstring injury, recording no catches. In 2011 Cruz burst onto the scene after Smith left via free agency and injuries to Mario Manningham and Domenik Hixon opened the door for Cruz.
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Cruz’s coming out party in 2011 came against the rival Philadelphia Eagles in Week 3 when he got by All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha for three catches, 110 yards and his first two career touchdowns. The rest is pretty much history for Cruz, who continued making highlight worthy plays for the Giants throughout the season and entrenched himself as an important player for their offense.
In his two seasons with the Giants Cruz has put up stats, catching 168 passes for 2,628 yards and 19 touchdowns, including a Pro Bowl appearance in 2012 and a second-team All-Pro nomination in 2011. In his rookie year Cruz also broke the Giants franchise record for receiving yards in a season with 1,536, breaking the record previously held by Amani Toomer.
Getting Cruz under contract, even with the tender, is good for both sides as Cruz now has some financial security for the season with hopes of working out a long-term deal and the Giants get back one of the best wide receivers in the league to go with Hakeem Nicks. Working out a long-term deal as soon as possible will be beneficial for both sides as Cruz could then get back on the practice field with his teammates and the Giants will have their man under contract for many seasons to come.