The restricted free agent signing period began with a whimper. And it ended with a whimper.
Apart from the Patriots’ effort to finagle receiver Emmanuel Sanders from the Steelers via a one-year, $2.5 million offer that Pittsburgh matched, no other offer sheets were signed before the April 19 deadline.
And so the rights of players like receiver Victor Cruz, who reportedly would be drawing interest from multiple teams, will now revert to the Giants. He can sign his one-year tender offer of $2.8 million, or he can continue to stay away from all team activities.
As previously explained, the Giants can withdraw the tender on June 17 and replace it with a 10-percent raise over his 2012 salary of $540,000, which equates to $594,000. The Steelers opted not to do that last year to receiver Mike Wallace; it’s unknown whether the Giants would squeeze Cruz by taking more than $2 million off the table.
In theory, Cruz could choose to stay away until Week 10 of the regular season, sign the tender then, and become an unrestricted free agent in 2014 — unless the team applies the franchise tag. While that rarely happens, players have only one effective piece of leverage in these situations: withholding services.