Giants Willing to Take the Risk of Losing Cruz

John Fennelly , Lead Writer

The NFL’s salary cap rules and rigid structure hurt the rich and capable organizations of this league. No debate there. The Giants are doubly damned, falling to both categories. Not only do they have the financial resources to compete, they have the organization to scout, develop and nurture talent perhaps better than any of the other 31 franchises.

In the case of WR Victor Cruz, who the Giants found in their backyard (like Jed Clampett found oil in his) the Giants are putting their franchise philosophy to the test.

Here is a player that went undrafted and became a star overnight, all while helping the Giants win a Super Bowl and drawing the league’s minimum salary in the process. What a win for Big Blue.

They danced, now the time has come to pay the piper. Cruz is entering the stage of his career where he is on the precipice of both greatness and wealth. Unfortunately for him, the latter may have to wait…. Or will it?

Cruz’ representatives and the Giants could not come to an agreement on a contract this winter. He will go into the season with his football future uncertain. His days as a Giant may be coming to end, either in the coming weeks or by the end of the season.

The Giants placed a first-round tender on Cruz today (approx $2.9 million), basically making him unavailable to most teams drafting in the top 20 and others who value their first-round selections.

We outlined several teams that may be willing to take a shot a Cruz: the Rams and Vikings, who both now have two first-round picks. It would make some sense for either of these teams to make an offer. The Giants would have the opportunity to match. The 49ers would have been a landing place, but they acquired Anquan Boldin from Baltimore this afternoon.

But will the Giants match? What is their threshold? Where will the find the cap room? CEO John Mara seems prepared for all scenarios, but the losing Cruz would not knock the Giants off their pins. They’re ready.

From Jenny Vrentas of the Star Ledger:

“Certainly, we’re taking a risk, but we would still have to right to match and if we decided not to do that, we’re getting a first-round draft pick out of it,” Mara said today at a joint NFL and General Electric press conference announcing a new $40 million research program to increase accuracy of brain injury diagnosis. “So yeah, it is a risk for us, and he is an exciting, dynamic player. It’s not going to shock me if somebody makes him an offer.”

They got Cruz for nothing and have already won a Super Bowl with him. How much more can he give them going forward is the question. For the money they’ll have to pay him, he will eat up significant cap space, making the Giants uncompetitive in other areas.

You know they are intent on keeping Hakeem Nicks, so the Giants will play this one close the vest. There’s no way they can pay two WRs $10 mil a year. They are a victims of their own success here.

If the outside offer to Cruz is too pricey, he goes. If it’s in range, they match. If no one comes knocking, they pay him his tender and continue to hammer out a deal as the season progresses. Cruz just switched agents to Tom Condon of CAA, who represents Eli Manning and several other Giants, so things could change course quickly here….