Victor Cruz decided there was no place like home with the Giants and home with his family and friends from Paterson, N.J. Rather than play under his one-year tender and try to become an unrestricted free agent in March, the wide receiver on Monday signed a six-year deal worth $45.879 million that makes him a Giant through 2018.
After sitting out the Giants' offseason training activities, Cruz told agent Tom Condon to conclude negotiations with the team that gave him his chance as an undrafted free agent in 2010.
"I just felt like it was time,'' Cruz said Monday on a conference call. "I said, 'I'm done with the back-and-forth. What's on the table is a really good deal.' I'm really excited about it and it's going to provide security for my family for a very long time. I felt like today was the day.''
The deal actually is a five-year extension worth $43 million on top of his one-year tender of $2.879 million. It reportedly has $15.6 million of guaranteed money over the first two years, including an immediate signing bonus of $9.5 million. The six-year average of $7.65 million falls short of the range of $9 million to $10 million Cruz was seeking, but the popular wideout didn't want to face another year of contract questions or uncertainty about his future.
Cruz admitted that no teams showed interest in him as a restricted free agent. He said there was no time when he thought he might not be a Giant.
"My deal is tremendous,'' he said. "I don't want to play anywhere else. Financially, my family is set for the rest of my life, so that's all I can ask for.''
When Cruz burst on to the scene with three touchdown catches in a preseason game against the Jets in 2010, he never imagined such a big payday.
"Not even close,'' he said. "I knew I made the team, and then it was about getting on the field and being a factor week in and week out.''
A hamstring injury put Cruz on injured reserve that entire season, but he earned a starting job in 2011 and was a key contributor for the eventual Super Bowl champions. In the past two seasons, Cruz totaled 168 catches for 2,628 yards and 19 touchdowns, and his touchdown salsa dance endeared him to fans.
That's why it was critical to remain connected to home.
"It was very important not just for the team but for my family being from here, for the people from Paterson, for the kids that look to me in this area,'' Cruz said. "I knew that in order for me to continue to be a role model in this area, I would have to stay as a New York Giant . . . My whole life has been a blessing.''