Salsa-dancing Victor Cruz wants to cash in on his role in the Giants’ Super Bowl season.
His message to Giants brass? Show me the money.
The rookie wide receiver, who led the Giants with 82 pass receptions for 1,536 and nine touchdowns, was paid $450,000 for this season and is scheduled to make $490,000 next year, according to USA Today.
“Honestly, with what I did this year — statistically and the records and everything like that — obviously I feel like just looking at the top players in the league and looking at what I did this year, I feel like, naturally, there should be an increase in pay,” Cruz, who starred in high school at Paterson Catholic, said on PFT Live.
That’s all well and good, but Cruz didn’t do it alone. A lot of his teammates might also be in line for raise, and NFL teams have a salary cap.
“We’re in the early stages of our evaluating the team as a whole, individually,” Giants General Manager Jerry Reese said on Feb. 9 in a conference call with reporters. “We have not yet discussed anything with respect to salaries.”
Reese said he expects the salary cap to remain at about $120 million, which will leave the champs little wiggle room. He also knows his players will expect to be paid for their accomplishments.
“That’s a good problem to have,” Reese said. “You win the Super Bowl and if everybody thinks they’re the reason we won — that’s a good problem to have. That means you won it. It’s just part of the offseason. There are always contract issues in the offseason.”
As a second-year player and an undrafted free agent, Cruz, 25, has little leverage.
“I think I was paid relative to where I came in this year, and I came in as a free agent so I don’t feel like I was underpaid,” Cruz said on PFT Live. “After my performance this year, I feel like I deserve to be paid more money at this point.”
Like many of the Giants, whether or not he gets a raise, Cruz figures to cash in on the team’s Super Bowl success.
After appearing at the Fashion Week kickoff at Lincoln Center to plug his clothing line, Young Whales, which is sure to get a bump from the championship, he appeared on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” The New York Post also reported that he is closing in on a book deal. And he’ll soon be heading to Los Angeles to present an award at the Grammy’s
Will success change the kid from Paterson, who has come off as the picture of humility, charm and grace with the spotlight shining on him?
“No matter what, I still have to be myself and remember where I came from,” Cruz told Mike Garafolo of the Star-Ledger on Feb. 9. “I will not be spoiled by success, especially when I have the type of mother that I have who won’t allow that.”
—JOE GREENE, NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM