VICTOR CRUZ CRUCIAL TO GIANTS' SUCCCSS
"Under Pressure: Victor Cruz
After missing most of his rookie season with a hamstring injury, New York
Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz had a breakout season in 2011. He caught 82
passes for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns in the regular season and then added
21 receptions for 269 yards and a touchdown during the Giants' title run.
Three issues, however, could potentially stand in his way of repeating last
First, Cruz's role in the offense could change with the departure of Mario Manningham in
free agency coupled with Hakeem
Nicks' broken foot. Instead of playing his natural slot position, Cruz will
get a chance to work on the outside. Playing on the edge isn't necessarily more
difficult in Kevin Gilbride's offense, but it is a change from what he's
accustomed to doing and could take away from the big-play ability he had in
So far, so good, though, offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride
"It took him a while to get going (in 2011). He didn't start the year real
well and then all of a sudden, in that Philadelphia (Eagles) game, he made two
phenomenal plays for us," Gilbride said. "But truly in the beginning of the
year, every play was an adventure. He was either going to be right or awfully
wrong but got better and better and better at eliminating the mistakes...That's
what's nice about now. It's like he hasn't missed a beat."
Secondly, during his breakout season, Cruz's compelling back story elevated his "Q" rating to the point at
which he hired a marketing firm (IMG) to handle all his demands. Cruz already
demonstrated restraint and focus by turning down an opportunity to appear on
"Dancing With The Stars". Based on his OTA participation and performance,
off-field distractions haven't been an issue.
A third issue is Cruz's contract, which paid him the league minimum
($450,000) in 2011 and will do so again in 2012 ($540,000). The 25-year-old
hasn't hidden his desire for a new and much larger contract. He fired his
original agent (Abu Toppin) and hired Malik Shareef this offseason.
Cruz repeatedly has said that he won't be a training camp holdout, which could be due to
Cruz not having earned enough income from football to pay the daily fines the
Giants can levy against him if he did hold out. Another part of the decision to
not hold out of camp is Cruz knowing that he's under club control for the next
two seasons. Cruz will be a restricted free agent in 2013 and could receive the
franchise tag in each of the next two offseasons.
Being one of the most productive and most underpaid players on a Super Bowl
team in the largest media market in the world could have been a recipe for
disaster this offseason. Thus far, Cruz has navigated around the distractions as
adeptly as he did opposing secondaries in 2011. Cruz will need to continue to do
so to maintain his production and show the front office and coaching staff that
he deserves the new contract he seeks."