With the new labor deal utilizing mandatory four-year contracts for all drafted players, restricted free agency will become relevant in the future only when an undrafted player (or when a player cut from his rookie contract) finishes his three season in the league and has no contract.
The biggest name this year falling into that category, by far, is Giants receiver Victor Cruz. And with the new labor deal limited the maximum compensation for a restricted free agent to a single first-round draft pick (down from a one and a three), the question becomes whether the Giants will expose Cruz to the possibility that someone will sign him to an offer sheet the Giants can’t or won’t match.
Per Albert Breer of NFL Network, use of the first-round tender for a restricted free agent resulted in a one-year, non-guaranteed salary of $2.879 million. The Giants also could choose to apply the franchise tag, which would increase the compensation to a pair of first-round picks — but which also would increase the one-year tender toward $10 million, guaranteed.
The Giants may be safe to stick with the maximum RFA tender. Based on the lack of interest in restricted free agents like Mike Wallace last year, there’s reason to at least suspect that teams have opted to not pilfer these three-year players. If no one pursues Cruz, it arguably could be proof of collusion among the various clubs.
Of course, a team will have to be willing to give up a first-round pick and plenty of money to sign Cruz to an offer sheet. Even then, there’s a chance the Giants will match.
If he becomes available, the Giants likely don’t have to worry about a division rival whom Cruz burned for a long, game-winning touchdown. Thanks to $36 million in cap penalties orchestrated in part by Giants co-owner John Mara, the Redskins have the cash but most likely not the cap space to fire a missile for Cruz.