Pipe dream: Could the Vikings turn the No. 23 overall pick into Victor Cruz?


January 27, 2013; Honolulu, HI, USA; NFC wide receiver Victor Cruz of the New York Giants (80) is pushed out of bounds by AFC cornerback Johnathan Joseph of the Houston Texans (24) in the third quarter during the 2013 Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium. The NFC defeated the AFC 62-35. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota could use a little bit of salsa dancing.

Giants impending restricted free agent receiver Victor Cruz does not have a new deal yet, but he’s not too worried about it.

"“I’m not getting antsy at all,” Cruz said. “I know they have to come around at some point.”"

Cruz’s situation with New York is quite similar to receiver Mike Wallace’s situation with Pittsburgh last season, as pointed out by Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk.

"The Giants could slap the maximum restricted tender on Cruz and gamble that no team will be willing to give up a first round pick in addition to the cash it will take to sign Cruz to a long-term deal. It’s a risk other teams have taken successfully, including the Steelers with Mike Wallace last offseason."

What does that mean for the Vikings?

It’s no secret the Vikings, who ranked 31st in passing, will add at least a couple receivers in the offseason. If general manager Rick Spielman doesn’t feel confident that available draft prospects could contribute right away, he may elect to sign a free agent such as the 26-year-old Cruz or Greg Jennings.

The Vikings have a late first round pick, No. 23 overall, in the upcoming NFL Draft. If the Giants indeed place a maximum restricted tender on Cruz, Minnesota would have to give up the No. 1 overall pick to sign Cruz.

Even if Minnesota’s pick is a late first-rounder, a first round pick is highly valued in the NFL. Late first-rounders typically bring in quality young talent at dirt cheap rookie contracts.

Wouldn’t the Giants simply just match?

The Giants are projected to be $4.7 million over the cap in 2013, according to John Clayton of ESPN. If the Giants want to re-sign Cruz, they would have to let go some players with high base salaries.

Here are some candidates, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com.

"• RT David Diehl: The veteran, who has helped the team win two Super Bowls, will make $4.1 million in base salary in the final year of his deal. The Giants have to re-sign Beatty and Boothe and have T James Brewer waiting in wings.• CB Corey Webster: Struggled this past season and is entering final year of deal worth $7 million in base salary.• LB Michael Boley: Set to make $4.25 in base salary in final year of deal. Saw snaps reduced dramatically in final couple of games.• RB Ahmad Bradshaw: Sounded very nostalgic and unsure about his own future toward the end of the season. But Tom Coughlin wants multiple running backs and loves Bradshaw, who will make $3.75 in base salary next season.• DE Justin Tuck: Reese and Coughlin said he’s likely returning for final year, worth $4.5 million in base salary.• DT Chris Canty: Veteran is due $6.25 million in base next season, could be candidate to restructure."

According to Clayton, the Vikings are projected to be $16.1 million under the cap in 2013 (this number may be a little lower because of Pro Bowl bonuses). Like the Giants, the Vikings could also release some players with high base salaries or re-negotiate contracts to free up even more space.

Remember: In order for Minnesota to pull this off, they would have to give up a first-rounder and pay a hefty contract. On the other hand… it’s Victor Cruz.

Free agency starts March 12.