If you are anything like me, you were disappointed to hear that the Giants and Victor Cruz had finally come to an agreement on a contract extension. Not that it wasn’t deserved, but I was hoping either for a long, bitter dispute or for Cruz to spontaneously combust while practicing his ridiculous post-touchdown salsa dance. Now, I’m just hoping that his big pay day creates problems with Nicks who suddenly needs to “prove” he is worthy of #1 receiver money in the final year of his contract.
But, it also reminded me that the Cowboys may have a similar situation facing them in the not-so-distant future with Dez Bryant’s very cap-friendly rookie contract nearing its end. It also made me curious about how the rest of the NFC East looks on the receiver front now that the Giants have avoided disaster (for the time being – at least until they lose the opener in Cowboys Stadium and the finger pointing starts…).
There are several ways to look at this. I chose to look at guaranteed money as that represents the total commitment a team has made to a player regardless how the money is divided up between base salary and bonus or for how many years. Live or die, they will owe this player this money. Some of these numbers might surprise you – they did me.
Miles Austin, 29, Dallas Cowboys – $17,078,000 (UFA 2017)
DeSean Jackson, 26, Philadelphia Eagles – $15,000,000 (UFA 2017)
Victor Cruz, 26, NY Giants – $14,130,000 (UFA 2019)
Pierre Garcon, 26, Washington Redskins – $13,500,000 (UFA 2017)
Jeremy Maclin, 25, Philadelphia Eagles – $9,500,000 (UFA 2014)
Dez Bryant, 24, Dallas Cowboys – $8,625,000 (UFA 2015)
Jason Avant, 30, Philadelphia Eagles – $8,000,000 (UFA 2015)
Josh Morgan, 28, Washington Redskins – $7,300,000 (UFA 2014)
Hakeem Nicks, 25, NY Giants – $6,400,000 (UFA 2014)
Santana Moss, 34, Washington Redskins – $6,000,000 (UFA 2014)
I understand that Dez Bryant is still working off his rookie deal, but does it alarm any other Cowboy fans to see that Miles Austin is the highest paid receiver in the NFC East? Get ready Jerry because if Dez has another year in 2013 like he had last year, he will be due a huge payday and the ‘Boys would be wise to try to ink him to an extension this year or next (likely next year).
Just to emphasize the point, let’s look at this same list of NFC East receivers and rank them on the number of receptions they’ve had the last 2 seasons combined.
1. Victor Cruz, 168 receptions, 2628 yds, 19 TDs
2. Dez Bryant, 158 receptions, 2310 yds, 21 TDs
3. Jeremy Maclin, 132 receptions, 1716 yds, 12 TDs
4. Hakeem Nicks, 129 receptions, 1884 yds, 10 TDs
5. Pierre Garcon, 114 receptions, 1580 yds, 10 TDs (includes 2011 with the Colts)
6. Miles Austin, 109 receptions, 1522 yds, 13 TDs
7. Jason Avant, 105 receptions, 1327 yds, 1 TDs
8. DeSean Jackson, 103 receptions, 1661 yds, 6 TDs
9. Santana Moss, 87 receptions, 1157 yds, 12 TDs
10. Josh Morgan, 63 receptions, 730 yds, 3 TDs (includes 2011 with the 49ers)
There’s little question Victor Cruz deserved to get paid and I think the deal was fair to both sides. But, Dez Bryant has been a bargain for the Cowboys. As long as he stays healthy and continues to produce those kind of numbers, the Cowboys will have to pay him handsomely.
I love Sean Lee. But, it scares me to hear the team talking about inking him to an extension already. When he’s on the field, he’s a force. But, he hasn’t proven he can stay healthy for an entire season (even going back to college). Jerry and Stephen Jones have proven time and again to be overly generous with contracts for players that have one good season or show some hint of promise – do Miles Austin and Doug Free ring any bells? How about Romo’s recent extension? I just hope they learned something from those experiences and make sure they keep the pending “Bryant payday” in mind. It will likely be worth it and well deserved, but like a balloon payment on a mortgage, you have to plan for it. You can’t continue to restructure contracts to try and create cap space. It would be nice to have a real GM managing the check book, but we all know that’s just a pipe dream. Go Cowboys!