New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz has already missed the beginning of the team's offseason workout program, as a contract dispute with the team has kept him from the team's facility since the season ended. Despite the potential to turn into a lengthy negotiation between the two sides, Giants owner Jerry Reese told Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York that the front office is "not mad" at Victor Cruz and that the receiver doesn't hold any ill-will toward the team either.
"We are not mad at Victor," Reese said. "Victor is not upset with us. It's just business. And we are hoping things work out."
So early in the offseason, it would be concerning if patience was already being lost just one week after Reese told Youngmisuk that he was confident a new deal would get done. Still, a lack of progress in negotiations can wear on patience quickly and while Reese is feeling good about the negotiations, head coach Tom Coughlin didn't sound as confident when he spoke to David Satriano of the New York Post:
"It has to be a concern because when the restricted free agency period is over, you would hope that things would move fast. What we want is exactly what I said the other day. We want a win-win. We want Victor to be proud to be a New York Giant, proud of his contract," Coughlin said.
In the last two seasons for the Giants, Cruz has been a dynamic threat in the passing game for the Giants, hauling in 168 passes for 2,628 yards and 19 touchdowns, earning a Pro Bowl nod in 2012. That type of production would seem to demand top money, but reports in March were that the Giants made a contract offer for more than $7 million per year.
While that would exceed the $2.879 million he would receive from the one-year tender he was given by the Giants, it wouldn't seem to follow the market that top receivers have received during the 2013 offseason and wouldn't place him in the top 10 in receiver pay.
Percy Harvin received a deal worth an average of $11.667 per year from the Seahawks, while the Dolphins dished out $12 million per year to Mike Wallace. Yet, the Pro Bowl production from Cruz hasn't warranted an offer in that neighborhood, according to reports.
It's unsurprising that the Giants would want to protect themselves though, as the team isn't exactly loaded with cap space. With Eli Manning due to count over $20 million against the cap in 2013, the Giants have less than $4 million in space to work with, according to the latest estimation from the NFLPA.
Erasing that remaining space by dishing out a huge deal to a player that has only two years worth of production could be a scary thought for the team. But allowing the possibility of a Pro Bowler leaving in unrestricted free agency in the 2014 season could be scarier.