The New York Giants organization runs like a steady ship.
The combination of strong ownership, a stable front office, no-nonsense coach and star quarterback has brought the Giants two Super Bowl trophies in the last decade. The team rarely has distractions or off-the-field issues.
But that might be changing.
Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks did not attend Organized Team Activities last week, both mired in contract squabbles. A restricted free agent, Cruz contract talk has made a big buzz for Giants fans.
Last season, Cruz hauled in 86 passes for almost 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns. In 2011, Cruz burst onto the scene with more than 1,500 yards and nine touchdowns.
Cruz gives Giants quarterback Eli Manning a reliable slot receiver with breakaway speed.
Redskins fans remember well Cruz’s 77-yard touchdown that cost Washington a win in the Meadowlands last October. The speedster simply outran the entire Redskins secondary on his way to the end zone.
While most reports suggest that Cruz’s business team is deep in negotiations with the Giants on a contract extension, until a deal is done, nothing is certain.
Add in that fellow receiver Nicks is unhappy with his contract, and Manning’s two best receivers are not participating with the team in OTAs.
Sure, OTAs are “voluntary,” but a coach like Tom Coughlin expects the most out of his players. Coughlin did not seem pleased with Nicks absence from OTAs, saying “he should be here.”
The fifth-year wideout from North Carolina had a down season in 2012. Battling injuries and playing in just 13 games, Nicks accounted for less than 700 yards receiving and only three touchdowns.
When fully healthy, Nicks has put up big numbers. In 2011, he grabbed seven touchdowns and almost 1,200 yards.
With one year left on his contract, Nicks wants a new deal. It is unlikely the Giants can handle both the Nicks and Cruz situation before the season starts.
Contracts aren’t the only reason for Giants players to miss OTAs.
Injuries kept out defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and fullback Henry Hynoski from the field, and both players could be in danger of missing time in the regular season.
While losing Hynoski to a knee injury would be a blow for the Giants, losing Pierre-Paul to back surgery would be a much bigger issue. JPP might be the Giants best player on defense, and he leads a ferocious pass rush that gives Big Blue its defensive identity.
Contracts and injury rehab will play out between now and September, but for an organization that thrives on detail and precision, missing four starters from OTAs is a bit of a change.
Mandatory minicamp begins Tuesday for New York, so both Cruz and Nicks should be with their teammates. What actually happens could be a different matter, and regardless of what happens with the recievers, Pierre-Paul and Hynoski will not see the field.