Victor Cruz has had his detractors. The New York Giants wide out had a breakout season in 2011 — catching 82 passes for a franchise record 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns — ending with the walk-on New Jersey native holding up the Lombardi Trophy last February.
Coming into this season, some still thought that defenses would catch up with the fleet-footed Cruz and had already shot his wad with his "career" year. Critics predicted Cruz's trademark end zone salsa moves would be farther and fewer between in 2012.
Now Cruz wants everyone to know he hopes there's a lot more hip shaking in his Giants future — but it'll come with a bump in pay.
Cruz is pushing the Giants to rework the final year of his NFL minimum $540,000 contract — although he wants his focus to be on the football field — and pay him what other comparable players get. The Giants have gotten their money's worth out of Cruz's bargain basement price tag and the sale is almost over.
If you compare Cruz's stats to the to numbers of the NFL's current crop of elite receivers, the Giants deep threat might want to change his celebratory dance to a tango — as in tango and cash.
On Tuesday, Cruz told WFAN during his weekly spot he hopes a deal is struck sooner than later.
"I'm just in a position right now where I'm focused on football," said Cruz. "I have people, my agents and things like that, to worry about that stuff. But as a human being, you obviously want to ... you hope you get it done before the season's over."
Cruz has 50 receptions for 627 yards and seven touchdowns through six games. It puts him on pace to top last year's career year with 114 catches for 1,433 yards and 16 end zone hip shakes.
Compare that with the NFL's other breakaway wideouts and you can see why Cruz is looking at a windfall.
New England Patriots slot receiver Wes Welker has 54 grabs for 688 yards and two touchdowns this season and will be getting $9.5 million for his services. The Buccaneers' Vincent Jackson, he of the 27 catches for 586 yards and 5 TD's commands $11 million per.
Where does this put Cruz — who combined with Hakeem Nicks — who gives Giants quarterback Eli Manning two formidable deep threats? In pretty good company.
"I didn't want to come in and try to prove anybody wrong or prove all the doubters wrong," Cruz added. "Because I think what I did last year proved a lot of people wrong in itself."
After a Twitter frenzy suggested Cruz should hold out — lest he gets injured — the wideout responded.
"Never happen," said Cruz. "If I'm going to do that I might as well do it at the beginning of the season, not wait until I'm doing well."
Sounds like Cruz will be shaking his moneymaker for other reasons this season.
"I love this team, I love this organization," he said. "I want to, God willing, one day retire a Giant."