There has been no better Cinderella story in the NFL" href="http://bleacherreport.com/nfl" target="_blank">NFL over the past two seasons than Victor Cruz" href="http://bleacherreport.com/victor-cruz" target="_blank">Victor Cruz's rise to stardom with the New York Giants.
Big Blue signed the undrafted free agent out of Massachusetts who just hoped to make the roster in 2010. Cruz missed most of that season with a hamstring injury.
In 2011, he opened camp as the team's fourth wide receiver. Due to injuries, he climbed up the depth chart and became the team's No. 2 wide receiver by late September. He surprised the world by coming from obscurity to breaking a Giants record with 1,536 receiving yards. And the season culminated in a miraculous Super Bowl run.
He followed up this campaign with another 1,000-yard season with 10 touchdowns, proving that his success was no fluke.
Few Giants players have ever been so beloved. The Paterson, New Jersey wideout embodies the New York attitude. His boyish smile and salsa dancing gets fans out of their seats. More importantly, he is a shining example of the New York mindset that anybody can make it. As Jay-Z and Alicia Keys say in Empire State of Mind:
New York concrete jungle where dreams are made of. There's nothing you can't do. Let's here it for New York. These streets will make you feel brand new. These lights will inspire you.
Cruz has been exceptional as a Giant, far exceeding his contract of $490,000 last year and is looking for a major pay raise.
The restricted free agent has stated he wants to remain with Big Blue, but also is seeking a long-term contract that ranks him among the highest paid wide receivers in the game.
That being said, GM Jerry Reese has shown time and again that their organization is a business, not a family. The Giants have sustained long-term success because of Reese's shrewd—and sometimes unpopular—moves with his roster.
Don't forget that Reese was oft-maligned for not re-signing Steve Smith and Kevin Boss in the 2011 offseason. The Giants went on to win the Super Bowl.
The Giants continue to show that they have great replacements deep on the depth chart. By not signing Smith, Big Blue played Cruz and Mario Manningham. In addition, Jake Ballard was an internal, cost-efficient solution at tight end that made fans forget about Boss quickly.
Reese has handled the delicate Cruz situation in the same manner. He sets a value that he believes his Pro Bowl wide receiver is worth, and refuses to give in.
So if a team blows Cruz away with a lucrative contract near the five-year, $60 million contract Mike Wallace got from the Dolphins, the Giants are in trouble. Big Blue is under the salary cap by less than $10 million and with starting safety Stevie Brown and starting offensive guard Kevin Boothe still unsigned, Reese cannot overpay for a player.
Like all Giants fans, I love Victor Cruz. He is a great player and model Giant.
But above all, I trust Reese's judgment and the Giants' player development.
So if the price is not right, do not bite.
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