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Minicamp not quite mandatory for Victor Cruz until he signs

Victor Cruz attends a game between the Nets

Victor Cruz attends a game between the Nets and Knicks. (Dec. 19, 2012) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

When is a mandatory minicamp not quite mandatory? When a player on a team isn't quite on a team, of course.

Such is the status of Victor Cruz. While his name appears on the Giants’ roster, he is technically not under contract since he has yet to sign his restricted free agency tender and is still in negotiations for a as yet also unsigned long-term deal. According to league officers, that leaves Cruz in a limbo state during this time of the season when voluntary becomes mandatory.

In other words, don’t count on Cruz showing up next week when the Giants have their minicamp on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. At least not without a contract. And since the deadline for him to sign his waiver before the Giants have an opportunity to drop his 2013 salary from $2.879 million to $630,000 is not until June 17 – four days after minicamp ends – the Giants have no financial means to force Cruz to attend.

Players who are under contract can be fined up to $11,025 for missing the first day of minicamp, $22,050 for the second day missed and $33,075 for the third day missed. All told, a player can be fined a maximum of $66,150 for missing the workouts.

That’s why a player under contract – like, oh, for example, Hakeem Nicks – will almost certainly be at minicamp even if he is not actually on the field. We’ve seen those kinds of semi-holdouts before from Jeremy Shockey and Plaxico Burress (and even Osi Umenyiora in training camp) where a player is technically there but refuses to participate. In Nicks’ case, he probably wouldn’t be doing much on the field anyway as he recovers from offseason knee surgery.

Tom Coughlin said he will take time next week to talk with Nicks and clear the air over his missing the last few weeks of voluntary OTAs. Unless Cruz signs, he'll likely have no opportunity to do so with Cruz. And if Cruz does sign by then, it will likely be a long-term deal and not the first-round tender offer. in that case, the air will likely be pretty clear between the two sides anyway.


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