COMMENTARY | The clock is ticking on the New York Giants to sign All-Pro wideout Victor Cruz before he becomes a restricted free agent on March 12. So what's holding things up?
Frankly, there's no need to rush anything because Cruz has almost no leverage on the team. Since he's an RFA, New York will have a chance to match any offer sheet from another team. Moreover, he'd be tendered, which means the Giants would receive a first-round compensatory pick from any club that signs him. Thus, you can argue that Cruz shouldn't even be the team's top priority.
The Giants have other offseason concerns. According to ESPN's John Clayton, New York currently is projected to be an estimated $4.7 million over the salary cap next season. In order to stay on budget, they may have to restructure a few contracts -- cornerback Corey Webster, for instance, is scheduled to make $7.1 million in 2013. Plus, the Giants face tough decisions on several unrestricted free agents (see my previous story on the topic). Cruz, who made $540,000 this past season, deserves to cash in on back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, but these issues will impact how much the Giants can and are willing to pay him.
"We certainly want him back, but like with any player, there's a limit to where we're going to go," Giants co-owner John Mara told NJ.com. "He is a high priority, he absolutely is, but he's not our only priority."
An interesting side note to the Cruz situation is the reported contract talks between the Giants and wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, who is coming off an injury-plagued season. From 2010 to 2011, Nicks averaged 1,122 yards and nine touchdowns and is viewed by the team as a game-changing player. Do the Giants value Nicks more than Cruz? I don't think so, but the team may be sending a message to Cruz by negotiating a possible long-term contract with Nicks, who has one year left on his current deal.
So what should Giants fans make of all this drama? In my opinion, it's much ado about nothing. It's only a matter of time before Cruz and the Giants come to terms. I write these words with confidence, knowing how much the organization values its game-breaking receiver. Cruz knows it, too.
"I'm not getting antsy at all, I'm just waiting my time," Cruz said last week, according to ESPNNewYork.com. "I know the Giants have a lot of decisions to make as far as all the other free agents we have so I'm just being patient. I know they have to come around at some point."
Just give it time.
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer with more than 15 years of experience covering amateur and professional sports for several print and online media outlets. He tracked the New York Giants for Yahoo! Contributor Network during the team's Super Bowl run in 2011-12. Adam can be found on Twitter @Pegcitysports.