How is one to figure out what qualifies a player to be a No. 1 wide receiver?
According to Victor Cruz, it involves play-making ability, familiarity with an offense and where exactly the wideout lines up each play.
In an interview Monday morning with NFL Network's "NFL AM," the New York Giants wide out called teammate Hakeem Nicks the team's No. 1 wide receiver.
"I think the No. 1 wide out is Hakeem Nicks," Cruz said. "I mean, he's been here longer, he understands the offense. He's our big-play guy, he's on the outside. So I definitely think he's our No. 1 receiver, there's no doubt about it."
It's a very selfless statement from Cruz, who recently signed a six-year, $45.879 million contract with the Giants.
The biggest points of contention from the contract negotiations was whether Cruz should have been paid as a No. 1 receiver or a premier slot receiver. Of course, Cruz was paid as a top-end slot receiver, earning an annual salary of $7.65 million, which is the 17th-highest yearly average among wide receivers.
His counterpart, Nicks, is entering the final year of his rookie contract. But there is no question Nicks will earn a contract as a top No. 1-type receiver.
In 2010 and 2011, Nicks topped the 1,000-yard receiving mark and totaled 18 touchdowns. This coming season, Nicks must show he is healthy enough to warrant a long-term deal, though the tightness he suffered in his groinduring training camp Sunday is a bit of an early concern.
On the topic of how receivers get paid, Cruz told "NFL AM" he thinks receivers -- both slot and No. 1 -- should be paid not for their label but production.
"I do think we've been undervalued; I think it definitely signifies a change in the game," he said. " ... I think the numbers are the numbers and they have to be scaled to the tops in the league no matter where you line up on the field."
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