Receiver Victor Cruz, who went from undrafted free agent in 2010 to breakout star in 2011, has one year left on his current contract, at a salary of $540,000. The Giants have yet to show any inclination to give him a new deal. And while that may not be OK with Cruz, he won’t hold out.
“That’s not in my vocabulary,” Cruz told Bruce Beck of NBC 4, via Mike Garafolo of the Newark Star-Ledger. “I don’t even know what that means.”
Cruz went even farther than that, saying he’s not unhappy with his current deal.
“I’m not frustrated at all. I’m just trying to go in there and play football,” Cruz separately told a group of reporters at the Nike uniform unveiling. “When I was young it wasn’t about money, it wasn’t about fame and fortune. It was just about playing football. So regardless of how short-term this career can be, I just want to go out there and play. All of that stuff will take care of itself.”
It’s a good attitude, but the ever-present risk of a career-altering injury could end or limit his career before he ever gets rewarded for his accomplishments. If that concept likewise isn’t in Cruz’s vocabulary, he should contact former Giants receiver Steve Smith, who didn’t work out a long-term deal with the team before suffering a knee injury from which he hasn’t fully recovered.
Regardless, Cruz has little leverage. He can stay away from voluntary offseason workouts and, if willing to pay the fine, boycott any mandatory minicamps. Once training camp opens, the fines shoot to $30,000 per day (or nearly one of his $31,764.70 game checks per day), and if Cruz doesn’t show up 30 days before the regular-season opener, he loses a year of credit toward free agency, preventing him from becoming a restricted free agent in March 2013.
So it’s smart not to hold out. But Cruz should be doing whatever he can do to position himself for a payday. He may be dancing now, but the music can stop at any time.