Let me be abundantly clear up front here: the frightening quotes you see below which will cause an outbreak of soiled pants in New York (or at least moderately more soiling than usual) is likely little more than rhetoric.
You see, during contract negotiations, gaining leverage is often a game of public optics. And in this case, if Victor Cruz can be made out to be Gotham’s evil villain, then the odds of him caving and accepting whatever number is currently on the table will grow, even if it’s just a little bit.
OK, ready? Turn away if you have a weak stomach…
Reese says he’s “not sure” if Victor Cruz will be back by Opening Day. Don’t panic, though. He was trying to not make any assumptions.
— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoNYDN) April 18, 2013
Jerry Reese, the general manager of the New York Giants, is seen there in paraphrased quote form as he tells the panicking public there’s a chance the contract stalemate with Cruz persists long enough that he may not be available for opening day next fall. That also implies that Cruz would miss all of training camp and the mandatory offseason workouts (he’s already sitting out during the voluntary workouts this week, although he did work with Eli Manning at Duke University).
He also dropped this:
“When we get ready to play when the season starts we’ll have some good players out there. I’m not sure if Victor will be there or not. I don’t assume anything. If Victor’s not here we have other receivers.”
That’s a doom scenario for both fantasy and reality purposes, as although he’ll surely maintain himself and be in something that resembles playing shape, Cruz’s personal training camp will begin sometime in September if he signs after the season starts.
While it’s possible, Cruz doing his best Vincent Jackson imitation appears unlikely, simply due to the hints that have been dropped recently. The Giants reportedly offered him more than the $7 million annual salary just given to slot receivers Danny Amendola and Wes Welker, with significant guaranteed money.
That’s a fine offer, but he needs and deserves more than that, which is why he’s seeking something in the neighborhood of $11 million per year. The problem for the Giants is determining exactly how much more he deserves based on his limited history of production, and therein lies the gap in negotiations. Are they paying for the Victor Cruz who had 1,092 receiving yards this past season, or the guy who finished with 1,536 two years ago? Or something in between?
The latter scenario is the most likely, as Cruz’s 20-yard receptions also fell in 2012 (25 two years ago, and 12 last year). He wants to stay in New York, because he thinks the city is a rather profitable place.And even if his numbers were down, they were still in line with Mike Wallce’s, the guy who will be paid $12 million annually on his new contract.
Deadlines motivate action, which is why if Cruz isn’t given an offer sheet by another team before April 19 (still possible, but unlikely), eventually later this summer meeting in the middle ($9.5 million annually?) will happen, and peace will be restored.