Forbes Analyzes Victor Cruz Contract Conundrum

Jim Mancari , Contributor

It’s been debated non-stop about what the Giants should do about Victor Cruz.

Forbes’ John Tamny gives us a financial picture of some potential options.

The Giants have offered Cruz somewhere in the neighborhood of a 5-year deal worth $36 million, with $12 to $15 million of it guaranteed. It’s obviously a lot of money, but (Paul) Schwartz notes that Cruz “feels he deserves more.”

Cruz has caught more passes the last two years for more yards and more touchdowns than have Vincent Jackson, Dwayne Bowe and DeSean Jackson, yet the offer from the Giants would pay him less than the $10 million paid annually to Jackson, Bowe and Jackson. Cruz can accept the Giants offer, or he can sign a one-year deal for nearly $3 million. If so, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent after next season, at which point he can sign with any team he wants. The Giants could then place the “franchise” tag on him, but if they do that, Cruz’s pay for the following year would jump substantially to an average of the best-paid NFL wideouts.

Assuming Cruz accepts the Giants offer, he’ll once again take in at least $12-15 million over the next few years. Of course it’s certainly possible that Cruz could have a huge 2013 season, at which point he would be one of the most underpaid star receivers in the NFL. If so, as in if he thinks he’ll have a big year, he should sign a one-year, $3 million deal with an eye toward a bigger contract after next season.

While he’s had two extremely productive seasons, Cruz is being a bit impatient. The Giants are offering him good money, though maybe slightly less than what he is worth based on production.

However, since it’s such a small sample size, Cruz needs to prove this year that he is no fluke. At that point, he’ll cash in, since he’ll be an unrestricted free agent.

Teams have been skeptical to give him an offer sheet because it would require losing a first-round draft pick if the team signed Cruz. But that will not be the case next year, so even if the Giants choose to go in a different direction, Cruz will get his money from somewhere.

Remember what happened to Steve Smith, as Tamny points out. The Giants offered him a six-year, $36 million ($15 million guaranteed) deal in 2010, but he instead rejected it and then tore up his knee. He hasn’t been the same since.

Hopefully, that doesn’t happen to Cruz, but both he and the Giants need to realize that it’s always a possibility given the nature of the NFL. Cruz right now is passing up guaranteed money while attempting to hold out for more.

If he does get hurt however, that money will no longer be there.

It’s tough from my perspective to think of any person turning down that sort of money. But Cruz does at least have a point: He has been one of the game’s top receivers the past two years, and he’s seen the deals that some fellow receivers have signed.

The difference though is that the above three receivers all had at least six years experience at the time they signed their deals.

Follow Jim Mancari on Twitter @JMMancari.