How does Welker's move impact Cruz?

March, 13, 2013
3/13/13
6:19
PM ET
Wes Welker's signing with the Broncos sent shockwaves around the league on Wednesday.

But Giants fans are wondering how the move will impact the Giants and their ability to hold onto restricted free agent Victor Cruz.

I know what many of you were thinking earlier on Wednesday: the Patriots need to replace Welker and Cruz makes sense in the slot for Tom Brady.

[+] EnlargeVictor Cruz
AP Photo/Perry KnottsVictor Cruz caught 86 passes for 1092 yards last season.
Let's keep in mind something first -- the Giants tendered Cruz with a first-round RFA tender. That means anybody looking to pilfer Cruz has to sign him to a lucrative long-term deal and then the Giants have to decide whether to match or not.

What exactly is the market now for Cruz? ESPN's NFL insider Adam Schefter reported that Welker signed with the Broncos for a two-year deal worth $12 million. Welker is older than Cruz but Welker's deal might bode well for the Giants and it probably does Cruz no favors.

AND, if a team wants Cruz, that team has to not only sign Cruz to a big deal but it has to sign Cruz to a deal out of the Giants' range. It remains to be seen if anyone will offer Cruz, who wants the kind of money top receivers are commanding. If a team does offer Cruz, there certainly could be a possibility the Giants might not match given their cap constraints and need to lock up Hakeem Nicks, who is entering the final year of his contract. But if the Giants pass on a Cruz offer sheet, that team pursuing the Giants receiver would have to surrender its first-round pick in this upcoming draft as well.

That is a hefty price to pay. Without a doubt, Cruz is talented, young and worth a lucrative contract. But teams can always opt to draft a receiver for much cheaper and not take up a chunk of their cap or try to sign a free agent wide receiver and keep their first-round pick.

Shortly after Welker signed, the next domino that dropped was Rams free agent wide receiver Danny Amendola signing with New England for a five-year deal worth $31 million, including $10 million guaranteed according to Schefter. Cruz is worth more than $6 million a year and he will be looking for more than that in guaranteed money. Cruz wants to be more in Mike Wallace's neighborhood -- the five years for $60 million with $30 million guaranteed type of neighborhood. And he will keep an eye on how much Greg Jennings will get in free agency as well.

So now that New England no longer needs a slot receiver, St. Louis and Minnesota are the two teams most speculate as potential would-be suitors for Cruz. The Rams and Vikings both have multiple first-round picks. But as Schefter mentioned earlier in the week, the Rams and Vikings, who traded Percy Harvin to Seattle, will look at unrestricted free agent receivers first and see what happens with the market before considering Cruz and the price tag that comes along with the Giants' receiver. The Vikings are considering Jennings and the Rams might take a long look at Julian Edelman, who the Giants might want to consider as insurance if Cruz were to bolt after next season as a free agent.

Also, one more thing to keep in mind: Cruz is in the process of switching to agent Tom Condon. This should bode well for the Giants. Condon represents Eli Manning, Mathias Kiwanuka, Mark Herzlich and Osi Umenyiora, who switched to Condon last year. Condon has worked well with the Giants concerning Manning, Kiwanuka and Herzlich, who chose the Giants as an undrafted player. And you'd have to think that Condon would want to keep Manning and Cruz happy by keeping them together.

Again, my guess is that Cruz remains a Giant this season. He wants to be paid but he also wants to remain in New York/New Jersey. The odds are in the Giants' favor. What happens after, and whether the Giants can lock down Cruz to a long-term deal, is another blog for another day.

Does all this make you feel better about Cruz for this season or not? Tell us below.
Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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