cruz-again2

As I see it, the central problem with money is that I never have enough of it. That may partly be because I eat too many burritos, instead of wisely conserving cash with a simple and humble homemade ham and cheese sandwich selection for lunchtime consumption (#bloglife).

The Giants need money too, just for much different consumption reasons. They need wins, and to get wins, they need good players. Preferably, great players, and one of the great players they’d like to purchase while in turn also purchasing wins is already on their roster.

And that’s where the simplistic ends, and complicated begins.

The player is Victor Cruz, and he’s Eli Manning’s bestest friend. Cruz had 86 catches for 1,092 yards this past season with 10 touchdowns. That included five 100-yard games, but as swell as those numbers are, there was a significant decease in yardage from his 2011 production (1,536 yards), and he also had far fewer chunk plays (12 catches for 20 yards or more in 2012, and 25 in 2011). We’re doing some educated guessing here, but that decline is likely what’s stalling negotiations with the restricted free agent who’s been given a first-round tender, leading to a gap of roughly $4 million.

Two weeks ago, the New York Daily News reported that the Giants offered Cruz a long-term contract which will pay him $7 million annually, with $20 million guaranteed. That’s some nice green, but it’s still not “you da man” money. Or to put a face on it, it’s far from Mike Wallace money. Wallace set the peak of the wide receiver market this offseason when the Dolphins paid him an average of $12 million per season.

You should sit down for this: it turns out that Cruz wants more money. The Daily News is now reporting that he desires $10-11 million per year, which has led to the aforementioned gap that Jay-Z’s new agency will have to bridge once Cruz officially becomes their latest recruit.

We’re getting into a sort of Joe Flacco situation here. As I’ve written so many times, Flacco is great, but he’s not $20.1 million per year, historical contract great. His timing, however, was the greatest, as in a football culture that values wins way too much and playoff wins even more, he led a magical underdog Super Bowl run. He was then paid all the money, and now Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo owe him at least nine steak dinners after he raised the QB pay bar to an unhealthy level.

Wallace didn’t have that sort of heroism. In fact, he’s declined, and he arguably became a secondary option in Pittsburgh to Antonio Brown when he had just 836 receiving yards in 2012, which followed two straight seasons with at least 1,100 yards. But he had the good fortune of being the best wide receiver available on the open market, with a highly WR-needy team that had an abundance of cap room waiting to be spent. How’s that for timing?

But now Cruz can look at Wallace’s recent production, and then look at his production, and say “hey, what the hell, bro?”. Cruz’s numbers may have been down from 2011, but they’re still very much in line with Wallace’s, and in some places better.

So there’s a case for both sides here. Cruz wants to be paid according to what the market has dictated, while the Giants want to protect themselves against uncertainty, and the possibility that their top receiver’s 2011 season was an outlier. Meeting somewhere in the vast space that is the middle needs to happen…eventually.

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