Jewelry isn't always enough.
Now that they have a Super Bowl ring, some players, notably wide receiver Victor Cruz, are telling the New York Giants, "Show me the money." It took less than a week for this to happen.
Cruz is an interesting case. His three-year contract calls for him to be paid $490,000 next season. But after having set a franchise record of 1,536 receiving yards this season and scoring a touchdown in the Super Bowl, he wants to be rewarded. At less than $500,000 a year, he is a bargain.
We all now know -- thanks to NFL taped recordings -- that part of Bill Belichik's defensive game plan was to focus on shutting down Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. It's clear that the Paterson, NJ-native is regarded as a game changer. Cruz has been quoted in the media saying that he deserves more money, and he wisely added that it's "something I’ll let my agents take care of." That's what they are paid to do.
It will be interesting to see how the Giants respond. When they agreed to the deal, Cruz's market value was substantially lower, but a contract is a contract. Both sides signed it in good faith, and the team would be within their rights to insist on its terms. One great year doesn't mean you tear everything up.
There is certainly the chance that Cruz could be a flash-in-the-pan. Although he has demonstrated the potential to be a truly great player, there would be risk in signing a multi-year, multi-million dollar extension after only one successful season. Production and durability are the keys to big paydays in the NFL.
Additionally, Cruz has already signed a deal to write a book. Undoubtedly his agents have endorsement deals in the works. Victor Cruz will be indeed be rewarded for production and popularity. Being a star in New York helps his overall earning potential.
Other players will be watching what the Giants do with Cruz. This is an intriguing case of a player who performed above and beyond the team's wildest expectations.
Jed Hughes is Vice Chair of Korn/Ferry and the leader of the executive search firm's Global Sports Practice. Among his high profile placements are Mark Murphy, CEO of the Green Bay Packers; Larry Scott, Commissioner of the Pac-12 Conference; and Brady Hoke, head coach of the Michigan Wolverines. Earlier in his career, Mr. Hughes coached for two decades in professional and intercollegiate football where he served under five Hall of Fame coaches: Bo Schembechler (Michigan), Chuck Noll (Pittsburgh Steelers), Bud Grant (Minnesota Vikings), John Ralston (Stanford) and Terry Donahue (UCLA). Follow him on Twitter @jedhughesKF.