Well, sort of.
The Giants applied a first-round tender to Victor Cruz, meaning he’ll be paid $2.879 million for the 2013 season, though any team that desires Cruz — which is most teams — will have to sacrifice a first-round pick. As we saw with Mike Wallace last year, that first-round price is often enough to scare teams off. The true wide receiver needy teams can invest in another young receiver during the draft and pay much less than the contract Cruz will ultimately demand.
That’s great, but right now with their cap room hovering around the $1 million mark, the Giants need to free space to even pay Cruz’s minimal tender salary. Veteran offensive tackle David Diehl has a rather charitable solution.
“Eli would be willing to do things, I would be willing to do some things to restructure and help other guys out and keep a great teammate like Victor Cruz. I have restructured before in my 10 seasons as a New York Giant. It is not something I am unfamiliar with. That is part of the business in the NFL.”
Let’s be abundantly clear here before Diehl or Manning or anyone gets the false Tom Brady Mother Teresa treatment: restructuring a contract is generally just creative accounting to solve a short-term problem. Or more accurately, it jams a thick wad of gum in a leaky hole, in this case allowing the Giants to keep on sailing for one more year until Jack Sparrow drinks all the rum and they’re screwed again next March.
There’s still some charity involved, because as you’re well aware of by now over a week into free agency, NFL contracts are filled with dirty lies. If money in a contract is pushed from this year to next year, there’s no guarantee the player will actually see that money. Ever, as he could be cut, or he could suffer a major injury.
For Diehl specifically, restructuring is rather risky. He’ll turn 33 just after the season starts, which is very much the opposite of young. He’s due $4.43 million during the final year of his current contract, and his play is already declining, and he just had knee surgery last month. So “restructuring” is a generous and gentle word, as Diehl would truly be taking a pay cut unless some of his 2013 money was hidden in a bonus.
With careers so fragile and his possibly beginning to wind towards its conclusion, this is a fine time to be selfish, and Diehl may want to re-think his good samaritan act.