Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Coughlin: Cruz contract situation 'frustrating'
By Dan Graziano
It seems clear the New York Giants thought they'd have wide receiver Victor Cruz signed to a long-term deal by now, and that Cruz continues to ask for more than the Giants believe he should be. Asked about the issue this morning in Manhattan, where he was promoting his new book, Giants coach Tom Coughlin articulated the team's side of the issue. Per Jenny Vrentas:
"We want Victor to be a Giant until the end of his career, but obviously he and his people, his agents, they’ve got to make that call. It’s a little bit frustrating in that you’d like to have it done, that’s all."
Cruz is a restricted free agent, so the Giants can keep him for this season with a tender. When asked if they can count on having Cruz in 2013, Coughlin said, "I think so."
They can, but the larger issue for the Giants is always the long term. And with Hakeem Nicks' contract up after 2013, the Giants are in a difficult decision with their two star wide receivers. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported last month that Nicks was the Giants' higher priority, since they consider him the better all-around player and Cruz more replaceable as a slot receiver. But Nicks' injury issues this year helped Cruz's leverage, as did his second straight season with more than 80 catches and 1,000 receiving yards. The five-year $56 million contract (with $26 million guaranteed) that wide receiver Dwayne Bowe got from the Chiefs on Monday without even hitting the market also helped the cases of Cruz, Nicks and every other receiver in the league.
Cruz is right to want to cash in now, after two brilliant seasons. But when it comes to contract negotiations, the Giants are patient and believe in their numbers. If their stance is that Cruz and his agents are being unreasonable, they're not likely to take any meaningful steps in their direction. So while Coughlin might be frustrated by the state of the Cruz talks, it's probably part of the Giants' strategy to make Cruz feel the same way.
Ultimately, I think this gets done, since Cruz doesn't want to leave New York and the Giants are likely to pay him more than just slot-receiver money (even if they're not willing to pay him No. 1 wide receiver money). But for now, it feels stagnant, and unlikely to resolve itself in the near future.