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Hakeem Nicks and the 'anti-Cruz' approach

An NFL Network report Monday said that New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks would be content to play out the 2013 season on his current contract and negotiate next season. Reporter Ian Rapoport described Nicks' plan as an "anti-Cruz" approach, since fellow Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz is attempting to get a long-term deal done with the team this offseason instead of playing out the year on his restricted free-agent tender.

Obviously, there are significant differences between the situations. Cruz is a restricted free agent, whereas Nicks is entering the final year of a five-year rookie contract that will have paid him more than $12 million since the Giants drafted him in the first round in 2009. That's about 10 times what the undrafted Cruz has made in salary over the past three years. Cruz is also coming off two extremely productive seasons, making this the right time for him to try to cash in while his value is high, while Nicks is coming off an injury-plagued season that didn't put him in the strongest bargaining position. So "anti-Cruz" may be a fair description of the way Nicks is playing his contract situation, but it's not as though they're identical spots and one decided to go one way with it while the other went another.

The Giants do want to keep both, which is why they'd like Cruz to sign for their number and they'd like to bring Nicks to the bargaining table this offseason if possible. If they go through this coming season with neither signed long term, it's unlikely they'll be able to keep both unless they both have bad years. The franchise player number for wide receivers this year was $10.537 million, and a Giants team that always seems to find itself right up against the salary cap would want to avoid having to use that on even one of these guys, let alone having to decide on which to use it.