New York Giants owner John Mara appeared on NFL Network on Tuesday and was asked about the team's ongoing negotiations with wide receiver Victor Cruz. Since there has not been any progress on this deal in months, there's no news to report. But here's what Mara said, per Ohm:
"I'm pretty confident that we'll end up reaching a deal with him," Mara said on NFL Network. "This is not that atypical a situation. Player contracts, particularly with star players like Victor, can tend to drag on from time to time. I think we'll get it done."
"This is the right place for him to play," Mara said. "He's a star in this area, he's an important part of our team, and I think we'll eventually get a deal done, but it's just a process that you have to go through. And we're going through it right now. There's communication, and it's slow but steady, and I think at some point we'll reach a deal."
asked during our chat Tuesday afternoon what the point is of Mara saying anything publicly on this. The answer is that this is a case where "negotiating in the media" is to the team's benefit. Look at the two critical elements of what Mara's saying:
1. The team is confident it will reach a deal with Cruz. This serves to calm elements of the fan base that might be worried about losing Cruz. It portrays the team as the reasonable side, and the one that cares enough to reassure the fans that it will all be OK. Part of the Giants' goal surely is to get or keep public opinion on their side, and saying things like this can help with that. In general (and I stress "in general"), fans have historically sided with teams over players in contract disputes, believing that the money is significant enough that the player should be happy with any offer. So the Giants are operating from that position of strength in terms of the fight for public opinion. Coming out and offering reassurance helps project that.
2. Cruz is a star in New York, and would benefit from staying there. This is a key element of the team's argument. The Giants aren't going to give Cruz every dollar that he wants, but Cruz will more than make up for it with endorsement and other such opportunities that will be more lucrative in New York than they would be in another market. It makes sense, is likely true and will ring so with the public that's hearing Mara's words. It serves as another reminder that the player should be happy with what he has and take what's on the table lest the opportunity of a lifetime vanish suddenly due to injury or a shift in the team's priorities (say, to Hakeem Nicks).
Part of the way the Giants believe they can get Cruz to accept the offer they've made is to increase the public pressure on him to do it. The words they're using when they speak publicly about this situation are designed to help with that. That's why you see Mara talking about this publicly. He wouldn't be doing it if he didn't think it would ultimately help the Giants get what they want.