In May, Hakeem Nicks mysteriously disappeared from optional training activities. This time next year, he’ll probably be gone for good. Not from the NFL –- plenty of teams could use a wily slot receiver like Nicks, even one with injury problems –- but from New York.
Why am I starting an article about Victor Cruz’s contract with a follow-up on Nicks’s wayward adventures? At first glance, it sounds like Cruz and the Giants both got a sweet deal. Cruz will earn almost $46 million over six years, and the Giants get to keep one of the finest wide receivers in the NFL.
On closer inspection, however, this deal looks like the kind of compromise that leaves everyone bereft. Reportedly, Cruz held out for this long because he wanted $11 million a year; this contract will give him about $8 million, a figure much closer to what the Giants wanted to give him in the first place. However, he forced the Giants to raise their offer just enough to cause salary cap trouble next year, when they’ll have to find enough money to keep Nicks on their roster.
Cruz is essential to the Giants’ offense, but they need Nicks just as much. With demand for talented slot receivers exceeding supply, the Giants stay a step ahead of competitors by retaining both Cruz and Nicks. When Nicks moves on next year –- and don’t doubt he will -– the Giants will be just another team with a single top-tier slot receiver.
Strangely, this means that Hakeem Nicks might be the true winner in this deal, but not until next year when he becomes a free agent. The Giants’ salary constraints will make it that much easier for him to negotiate with teams who will treat him as a star, not a second banana. Bon voyage, Mr. Nicks.
You can contact Sarah Rasher on Twitter @pas_dechat