Report: Giants, Victor Cruz nearing deal

Giants receiver Victor Cruz celebrates his second touchdown

Giants receiver Victor Cruz celebrates his second touchdown against the Cleveland Browns at MetLife Stadium. (Oct. 7, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty

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FORT WORTH, Texas -- Victor Cruz had one of the worst games of his brief career, a two-catch, 23-yard performance against the Cowboys. But he did, apparently, get some good news this weekend.

The Giants receiver told ESPN that contract talks with the team are "moving in the right direction" and that he was excited to hear that there was "some progress on the structure" this weekend.

For Cruz, who is earning $540,000 in base salary this year and is due to become a restricted free agent after the season, a new deal would likely be a multiyear contract and could be worth close to $10 million per season in accordance with what other top-tier receivers earn.

Talk of the new deal began to percolate last week, after Cruz caught the game-winning 77-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning against the Redskins. He downplayed his attention to the financial matters of his career, but said in a radio interview that he hoped to have a new deal in place by the end of this season. He did not want it to become a distraction, he said.

Cruz also has said he wants to be a Giant for life. While the terms of a potential new deal are not clear yet, it's possible that if and when it is completed it would cover the majority of his career. Cruz, 25, is in his third year in the NFL.

As for the Cowboys game, neither Cruz nor Hakeem Nicks had impressive stats, and Eli Manning was held without a passing touchdown for the first time in 13 games, including the postseason.

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Manning, who puts up 300-yard games on nearly every visit to Dallas, finished with 192 yards on 15-for-29 passing.

"We didn't do a good job of winning in our pass game," Tom Coughlin said. "I'm sure there aren't very many numbers, but we're happy to win and happy now to be on our way home."

Cruz complained about not getting some holding calls in the secondary, but also noted that the Cowboys' defensive design gave the Giants passing attack (ranked third in the NFL coming into the game) troubles.

"We weren't frustrated," Cruz said. "I think it was just a matter of them playing some good schemes defensively. They kept two people in my area for most of the time. They kept a safety over the top and they just played two-man on the outside. It's difficult to get a lot of the things we want done when they're playing that coverage."

Cruz was targeted eight times but caught just the two passes. One went through his hands on the sideline. Another, after which he looked for a flag, drew an apparently profane retort from Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan on the sideline. And then there was the one that bounced off of him as he was smashed over the middle by Gerald Sensabaugh. That pass went up in the air and landed on Sensabaugh's back, where Danny McCray was able to grab it for an interception.

Cruz was shaken up on the play, but returned.

"I got the wind knocked out of me in my stomach and I got kicked in the calf as well," Cruz said. "Just a bunch of little nicks and pains, but I'll be all right. I came right back in after that."

It was the second time in three games that Cruz had to leave the field after a big hit. In San Francisco, he was upended on a hit by Carlos Rogers and came down hard and awkwardly on the ground and limped off.

That, of course, is the danger for a player who does not have a long-term contract and the financial security it brings. An injury before that second contract of a player's career can cost him millions, as it did for the Jets' Leon Washington. An injury also can blow up negotiations, as it did with Steve Smith and the Giants two years ago.

It sounds like it might not be a concern of Cruz's for much longer, though.

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