- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN Staff Writer
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"Not at all, that is not in my vocabulary," Cruz said when asked if he would consider holding out while talking to reporters at the Nike uniform launch event in Brooklyn. "I don't even know what it means."
Cruz will make a base salary of $540,000 this season after setting the franchise record with 1,536 receiving yards last year. Cruz politely has tried to deflect attention from his contract situation ever since he said he felt he deserved a raise shortly after the Super Bowl in February.
The receiver recently hired a new agent, Malik Shareef, but he has insisted it has nothing to do with his desire for a new deal. Cruz said he is not upset with his current contract, which he signed as an undrafted free agent out of UMass.
"No, I am not frustrated at all," Cruz said. "I just want to go in there and play football. When I was young, it wasn't about the money, it wasn't about the fame and fortune, it was about playing football. Regardless of how short term this career can be, I just want to go out there and play and all that stuff will take care of itself."
Cruz may have a more difficult time this season performing his salsa touchdown dances since opposing defenses will undoubtedly be paying him more attention. Brandon Carr, the Dallas Cowboys' newest cornerback, already said that he plans to get physical with Cruz when the Giants and Cowboys meet in the season opener.
"I want to use all my body," Carr said on ESPN's NFL Live last week. "I'm 6-foot, 200 pounds. I know he's got to run through me to get wherever he's running, so I'm going to be patient at the line. All that salsa dancing, that's fine, but you've got to come through me."
"I don't plan on seeing no dancing," Carr added.
Cruz responded by saying, "It's cool. I understand guys are going to talk, but it's only April, man. We still got a long way to go. I'll just let all my talking go on the field."
"Everybody wants to defeat the defending champs," he added of having a target on him this coming season. "Anytime we step on the field this year we have a bullseye on our backs and we just have to go out there and perform."
There will be big expectations placed on Cruz's shoulders after his breakout season. Also, he and Hakeem Nicks will have to produce without Mario Manningham to help take some of the defensive attention off of them. Manningham signed with the 49ers in free agency and the Giants are searching for somebody new to step up as the third receiver.
"I know I will be asked to do a little bit more and just asked to be held a little more accountable," Cruz said. "We have to perform at a high level. There will be some guys that have to step up and fill that third receiver role. We will see how it goes."
Cruz has been working out and says he will increase his training soon. But he also joked he might be a little superstitious and try to keep the same routine as last offseason in hopes of it leading to the same on-field production.
"I'm going to keep it the same," Cruz said with a smile. "I'm working out at the same place, I'm probably wearing the same sneakers, I'm keeping everything the same. No, but it's been cool. I'm just happy to get back in the gym and get that football feel back. And it feels good being back in some pads, too."
Cruz has become as big of a star as any on the Giants roster and clearly has become a media darling as evidenced by the attention he garnered at the Nike event. Even with the likes of Philadelphia's Michael Vick, Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger and Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald at the Nike event, Cruz drew the biggest gathering of reporters and cameras. He deftly conducted his interviews in Spanish and English and even accommodated two requests from Latino reporters to do his salsa dance.
A year ago at this time, Cruz was just looking for his first professional catch. On Tuesday, he was the Giant modeling the new uniforms.
"It is funny what a year can do," Cruz said. "I am just happy to be here and all the hard work I have put into my game and into my life and everything that I have done has actually paid off. I just want to continue the success and be an athlete that is shown in a good light in New York City."
Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com.