Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 2/10/12
New York Giants’ receiver Victor Cruz played like a star in 2011. Now he should be paid like one.

At least that’s the stance that Cruz, who burst onto the scene this year with his record-breaking season, is currently taking. Just days following New York’s Super Bowl XLVI victory over the New England Patriots, the All-Pro receiver is asking for a pay raise, according to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk.

Always somewhat of a humble guy, Cruz appeared uneasy when he had to answer questions about his contract situation, but did admit that he hopes he will eventually be paid like some of the other big-name receivers in the NFL.

"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 said.

His request is certainly understandable considering that he led the Giants in receiving this past season with 82 receptions for 1,536 yards (a new franchise record) and nine touchdowns. Cruz finished third in the NFL in receiving, trailing only Detroit’s Calvin Johnson (1,681) and New England’s Wes Welker (1,569). He also showed that he was one of the most dangerous down-the-field threats in all of football by recording five touchdowns of 65 yards or more, the second most in a season in NFL history.

Cruz has clearly outplayed the contract that he signed as an undrafted free agent from UMass trying to make the team back in 2010. He is entering the final year of his contract and is scheduled to make $490,000 this upcoming season; a ludicrous sum for a player of his ability.

He certainly seems to be going about it the right way though. Rather than threatening a potential holdout if his demands aren’t met, Cruz has instead opted to let his agent handle the money while he concentrates on duplicating his 2011 success.

"My agents and guys like that will work out all that stuff," he said. "I will take care of the football aspect and those guys will take care of the contract."

General Manager Jerry Reese stated that the team has just begun the process of evaluating their roster and have not yet had any discussions concerning player salaries. Reese however did acknowledge that players wanting a raise after winning a Super Bowl ring is a problem he doesn’t mind addressing.

"You win the Super Bowl and if everybody thinks they're the reason we won -- that's a good problem to have," Reese said. "That means you won it. It's just part of the offseason. There are always contract issues in the offseason. That's what the offseason is. You have to deal with contracts and things with your roster -- who's going to stay, who's going to go."

The Giants will have to make some tough decisions in regards to what they want to do with their talented trio of receivers. Mario Manningham, whose unbelievable 38-yard catch in the fourth quarter set up the game-winning touchdown against the Patriots, is now a free agent and will surely have plenty of teams vying for his services. Hakeem Nicks, who has solidified himself as one of the best receivers in the league the last few seasons, has only two years left on his deal.

Nothing against Manningham and Nicks, but New York should make it a top priority to ink Cruz to a long-term deal. At only 25, he emerged as the Giants’ biggest playmaker this past season by making a series of huge plays that won them key games. He very well may have saved their entire season with his 99-yard touchdown catch against the Jets; a victory that started New York’s six-game winning streak that eventually ended with their Super Bowl celebration in Indy. He also had a 74-yard touchdown in the final game of the regular season that helped the Giants clinch the NFC East and a Playoff berth. He then proceeded to shred the 49ers’ secondary for 10 catches and 142 yards in the NFC Championship and capped off his miraculous season by scoring the first touchdown in Sunday’s win against New England.

Take Cruz out of the mix and the Giants most likely don’t even make it into the Playoffs.

And for all the extra attention that he’s been receiving, both on and off the field, the modest receiver from Patterson, N.J. has responded to it quite well. He has appeared on Jimmy Fallon’s late night show and is scheduled to do a promo for Nike. His salsa touchdown celebration has become such a big hit that Madonna actually reenacted it during her news conference discussing her Super Bowl halftime show. And, if that weren’t enough, Cruz will again take the music industry by storm when he and Mario Manningham present an award at this Sunday’s Grammys.

“I don't know what makes me so cool that they want me to do all this stuff," he said. "It's just a lot of fun. Anytime you win a Super Bowl, there's a lot of stuff that comes with it…It is safe to say that I will not be spoiled by success…Especially when I have the type of mother that I have that won't allow that.”

I’m never one to support a player when he asks for more money. But considering the kind of person that Victor Cruz is and the breakout season he just had, he certainly deserves it.

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