John Mara says he wants Victor Cruz to remain a Giant, but at a reasonable price.
“We certainly want him back, but like with any player, there's a limit to where we’re going to go," the Giants' co-owner told reporters Friday, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. "He's been a terrific player for us, he’s a fan favorite, he does a lot for our franchise, but there is a limit."
Cruz will be a restricted free agent. If the two sides do not reach an agreement on an extension, the Giants will likely use a first-round RFA one-year tender of $2.879 million on Cruz in March. If so, the Giants would receive a first-round pick as compensation if Cruz signs an offer with another team and the Giants opt not to match.
When asked if Cruz's asking price is unreasonable, Mara indicated that was the case.
"Well, right now, but that’s his agent,” Mara said. “But that’s what agents do, and we’ve got a lot of time to work something out, and hopefully we’ll be able to come together."
In a phone interview with ESPNNewYork.com, Cruz said he is hopeful that he will remain a Giant and that both sides are “still negotiating.”
“Hopefully we get something together and create a long-term deal that keeps me in New York for a while,” he said. “That's all I'm focused on. That's all I want. I feel like I've done enough to prove to the front office that I'm worthy of being in a blue uniform for a very long time. Hopefully they see it the same way."
Mara said the two sides "have a year to get that worked out."
"He is a high priority, he absolutely is, but he’s not our only priority," Mara said. "You have to have 53 guys signed, and we have some needs in other areas too. But listen, we do want him back, and he is certainly a priority, and I’m still optimistic of it."
Cruz is coming off consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons and is averaging 84 receptions, 1,314 yards and 9.5 touchdowns in the past two seasons.
He thought he and the Giants were close to an extension last season, saying that the structure of a deal was in place. The receiver hasn’t given an opinion on his feelings about possibly being tendered.
"It's not really on my mind,” Cruz said. “The deadline is coming up, and hopefully we can reach an agreement before then or whenever it comes up after that."
The Giants eventually will also have to try to retain wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, who will be in the final year of his contract next season.
Mara hopes he can keep both of his prized receivers.
"I hope we can get him back, and you know what, this is the best place for him to be playing," Mara said of Cruz. "He’s become such a fan favorite. He’s become so popular in this area I think it’s in his best interest to stay, but that’s my sales pitch anyway. I think we’ll get something done, but if not, God bless him, we’ll wish him luck."
UPDATED (7:28 p.m.): Victor Cruz told ESPNNewYork.com on Friday by phone in New Orleans that the Giants need to upgrade several positions this offseason.
"First and foremost, I think we got some guys in places right now that can do their job," he said. "We have a lot of free agents, so we've got to make some decisions. But I think obviously with the offensive line, we can probably use more guys, and definitely at defensive back and linebacker. Those are two areas where we need to address. So we'll see how that goes. Hopefully we have a good, solid draft."
Cruz also said he feels "good" since the season has ended, as well as Nicks.
"From what I hear, he's good, man," Cruz said. "I haven't spoken to him. I think I'm going to call him up in a few to see how he's doing, man. I don't know if he had surgery or what the case is."
Cruz is currently in New Orleans and will be in attendance at Super Bowl XLVII. But he can't wait for next year's opportunity to play in the big game back home at MetLife Stadium.
"I'm excited about that, man," he said. "I think it's going to provide a lot of motivation for us to be there next year, and hopefully we can come through and do that."