NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Giants co-owner John Mara told reporters on Monday that Big Blue will assign a first-round tender to wide receiver Victor Cruz, who is a restricted free agent.
The tender means that Cruz will be offered a one-year deal worth $2.879 million.
The 2012 Pro Bowler will now hit the open market, though Mara hopes that the playmaker will ultimately return to the Giants.
If another team makes a considerable offer to Cruz, the Giants will have the opportunity to match that offer. If Mara decides that the price tag is too much and the 26-year-old signs elsewhere, New York will receive a first-round pick.
"Certainly, we're taking a risk," Mara told reporters. "But we would still have the right to match, 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. It's not going to shock me if somebody makes him an offer."
The Paterson, N.J., native has repeatedly said that he'd like to stay with his hometown Giants, but reports have indicated that Cruz's camp and the Giants have not come close to agreeing on financial terms for a possible extension.
"Listen, 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. You have to pay 53 (players), and if the money goes over that limit, we have to make a decision. But we feel we're in a good position now. We've tendered him. If somebody wants to make him an offer, we'll evaluate whether it makes sense for us. My hope is he's a Giant for many years."
A fan favorite, Cruz was spectacular for New York in his first two seasons in the league. In 2011 he earned second-team All-Pro honors, catching 82 passes for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns. He was just as good -- if not better -- in his sophomore campaign, making 86 catches for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns.
"I think Victor is smart enough to realize that he belongs in this area," Mara said. "I think he's done very well for himself off the field. He's a very popular player here. He's had a lot of off-the-field opportunities. So hopefully all those other things will enter into his consideration."
How do you see this situation playing out? Will Cruz be a Giant next season? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below...
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