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Giant Assist? Welker, Amendola Deals Could Hurt Cruz's Dash For Cash

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- On Monday, Giants co-owner John Mara said his team made "a very substantial offer" to Victor Cruz before deciding to place a first-round tender on the restricted free agent.

Cruz may want to give it a second look.

Wes Welker agreed to a two-year deal with the Denver Broncos on Wednesday at a reported $12 million, setting a reasonable -- if not low -- market for slot receivers.

Instead of going after Cruz to fill Welker's spot, the New England Patriots reportedly reached an agreement with Danny Amendola on a five-year, $31 million deal, with $10 million guaranteed. That's an average of around $6 million annually for both Welker and Amendola.

Cruz has stayed healthy, is younger than the accomplished Welker and has put up much better numbers than the oft-injured Amendola. The Giants' leading pass-catcher for the past two seasons, Cruz was reportedly asking at one point to be paid like a No. 1 receiver. And he's put up the numbers. The 26-year-old came out of obscurity in 2011 to set a franchise record with 1,536 yards, and followed that up with 1,092 yards last season.

But the kid from Paterson, N.J., primarily plays in the slot, which can't help his argument -- especially after the Welker and Amendola deals -- in negotiations with New York.

The Giants have the right to match any offer. The team will get a first-round pick as compensation if Cruz signs elsewhere.

The St. Louis Rams, Amendola's former team, and the Minnesota Vikings have been speculated as potential suitors.

"We hope that at some point we'll be able to reach a long-term agreement with him, but we're just not there right now," Mara said earlier this week. "Certainly we're taking a risk, but we would still have the right to match, No. 1. And if we decided not to do that, we're getting a first-round draft pick out of it. So, yeah, it is a risk for us and he is an exciting, dynamic player and it's not going to shock me if he gets an offer."

Mara didn't want to "get into dollars" or characterize the money gap, though he acknowledged the Giants made "a very substantial offer."

"Let's just say if he took our offer he'd be a very wealthy young man," Mara said.

No first-round restricted free agents have received an offer sheet since 2003. Cruz's tender is worth $2.879 million.

"He's been a great player for us," Mara said. "Like we do with all of our players, there's a limit as to how far we're going to go on a contract because you've got to pay 53 (players). If the money goes over that limit, then we have to make a decision.

"If someone wants to make him an offer, we'll evaluate whether it makes sense for us or not. My hope is that he's a Giant for many years."

Do you see a team stepping up and making a mega-bucks offer to Cruz? Be heard in the comments...

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