- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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I like it when Joel Corry writes about matters pertaining to the NFC East, because he's as thorough as anybody writing football on the whole Internet, and his perspective as a former agent offers help making sense of contract matters. That is the case with this piece on New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, who remains stuck in a contract dispute with no apparent resolution in sight. Joel spends a lot of time analyzing and interpreting what's already happened, including his belief that Cruz made a mistake by not seeking outside offers in restricted free agency, before arriving at a potential solution for Cruz and agent Tom Condon to consider:
Cruz might want to consider signing a shorter term deal, which provides him some level of security but also gives him the opportunity to test the free-agent market while he's still young enough to take advantage of it. As Hall of Famer John Randle's co-agent, I helped negotiate a “bridge” or intermediate deal for him in 1995 where he got a two-year contract extension with the Minnesota Vikings that made him one of the NFL's highest-paid defensive tackles. We wanted his deal to expire when the new television deal money was going to increase the salary cap. Randle became the NFL's highest paid defensive player with the five-year, $32.5 million contract (including $20 million guaranteed without offsets) he signed in 1998 to remain in Minnesota.
A deal should be able to be made if Condon embraces this concept. Placing a value in the $10 million per year neighborhood on each of Cruz's two unrestricted years and adding the total to his $2.879 million restricted free-agent tender could give Cruz a three-year, $23 million deal. He would become an unrestricted free agent as a 29-year old under this approach.
Players in Cruz's situation, who have performed at an extremely high level early in their careers while still being paid at the low end of the NFL spectrum, can often be satisfied with shorter-term solutions that raise their salaries to respectable levels, if not levels that represent the top of the market. Joel's suggestion would keep the Giants in their preferred range and allow them to also pursue a long-term deal with Hakeem Nicks. It would also offer Cruz life-changing money in the short term, and the chance to cash in at massive levels if he continues to play the way he has the past two seasons. It also would get Cruz to training camp next month, which in the absence of a new deal has to be one of the Giants' main concerns.