Over the offseason, all of the talk about New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz has been contract related. This stems back from the beginning of 2012 after an appearance on PFT Live began contract speculation after a comment by Cruz.
I think I was paid, you know, relative to where I came in this year and, you know, I came in as a free agent so that’s the salary I was on, so I don’t feel like I was underpaid. I mean, I feel like after my performance this year, you know, I feel like I deserve to be paid more money at this point. But that’s something I’ll let my agents and those people take care of and I’ll just go out there and play the game.
The comments by Cruz during this interview were very warranted and did not deserve any backlash by fans or media about “diva status.” Unfortunately, when referring to wide receivers in today’s NFL, that will always be the case.
The difference in this instance, is Cruz’s ability to back up his impending contract negotiations with stellar play.
Cruz may be one of the most versatile wide receivers in the NFL. Standing at 6’0″ and weighing 204 pounds does not make him even close to one of the larger receivers in the league. However, that does not stop him from playing like one.
He is no stranger to playing on the outside or in the slot, running a go-route up the sideline or crossing dangerously across the middle — Cruz deserves respect for this alone. Many receivers in today’s NFL refuse to be so versatile — even if they are capable. Despite the amount of snaps in which Cruz must face larger defenders, he has always been a reliable target, and has been able to stay healthy. He has also been solid with the ball in his hands — only fumbling once in his two-year career.
The numbers back Cruz up.
In 2012, he caught 86 passes out of 137 targets — a 62.8-percent completion rate. Cruz eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark once again and caught 10 touchdown passes — one more than his 2011 campaign. In fact, only five NFL wide receivers caught more touchdown passes than Cruz over the past two seasons.
Wide receivers that did not reach the end zone as much as Cruz included — but are not limited to — the likes of Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Wallace, A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Vincent Jackson and Marques Colston. Not bad for a wide receiver who was an undrafted free agent coming out of college just two years ago.
It appears, however, that there may be light at the end of this tunnel. Cruz tweeted this on July 2.
Good things come to those who wait.
— Victor Cruz (@TeamVic) July 2, 2013
ESPN reported on Monday that the Giants and Cruz would have a long-term contract in the books before the start of training camp.
Cruz may be one of the brightest talents at the wide receiver position already. Although, there is a possibility that he has not yet scratched the surface of his true potential. He has only been in the league for two years after coming out of the University of Massachusetts.
Already, during his short tenure in the NFL, Cruz has been to one Pro Bowl (2012), was named second-team All-Pro (2011), Vizio Top Performer (2011), holds the Giants single-season record for receiving yards (1,536) and has a Super Bowl ring.
Accolades such as these are reserved for the most talented of NFL players. Victor Cruz has emerged as a premier name on that list.