With Victor Cruz having signed a rich new long-term contract that could keep him with the New York Giants through the 2018 season, attention now turns to the Giants other star wide receiver -- Hakeem Nicks. The bookend to Cruz in the Giants' passing attack is entering the final season of his contract, and could command even more than the 6-year, $46-million deal Cruz earned from the Giants, which included more than $15 million guaranteed.
After signing his deal on Monday Cruz promised to "put the pressure on" Nicks to see if he will stay with the Giants beyond 2013.
Victor Cruz on Hakeem Nicks: "I'm definitely gonna put the pressure on him to come back, see if he wants to play with me for the long haul"— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) July 8, 2013
Cruz on Nicks: "Hakeem's his own man. He's going to make his own decisions. But I'm definitely gonna see if I can get him to stay with me"— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) July 8, 2013
Can the Giants make that happen? Should they make it happen? Right now, those are two questions that are virtually impossible to answer.
Weeks ago I wondered in a column about the Giants' ability to keep Nicks in blue long-term.
Financially, it will be extremely difficult for the Giants to sign Nicks long-term once his contract runs out after the 2013 season. Nicks, commonly considered the Giants' No. 1 receiver since he plays the 'Z' position that generally draws the most attention from defenses, is likely to ask for a yearly salary well in excess of the $8.5 million annually the Giants are now paying Cruz. This line from my previous column still applies:
"Only seven receivers in the NFL making more than $10 million per year. Does Nicks really belong in that club?"
Unless he plays a full 16-games schedule and has the best season of his career I believe the Giants would be hard-pressed to put him in that financial stratosphere. Especially when you consider that would mean roughly $20 million annually (one-sixth of the salary cap) would be tied up at wide receiver.
No matter what Nicks does in 2013 the Giants could decide that the prudent, and financially acceptable thing to do, is let him go and turn over his role to Rueben Randle in 2014. Earlier I wrote of Randle that "if he shows the Giants in 2013 that he could be a 70-80 catch receiver who can command a double team that lessens the team's urgency to sign Nicks to an expensive contract."
I believe that also still holds.
Add all of that up and I would say the odds are not in favor of Cruz and Nicks staying together long term.