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Manning will consider reworking contract to keep Cruz

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Associated Press
3/20/2013 5:39:00 PM
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NEW YORK -- Quarterback Eli Manning will consider reworking his contract if it will help keep leading receiver Victor Cruz on the New York Giants.

The two-time Super Bowl MVP indicated Wednesday at a sponsor event that the Giants haven't asked him to redo his contract to open cap space. However, he said he would consider anything that helps the team.

"I want Victor back with the Giants," Manning said, adding that he checks the newspapers every morning to make sure that Cruz has not signed with another team. "It is nerve-racking. He is anxious. He has been dealing with this contract issue for a long time, last year and into this year. I know he wants to get this settled and get back to playing football, and just worrying about that."

The Giants recently allowed Cruz to enter restricted free agency, placing a first-round tender ($2.87 million for 2012) on the popular local product from Paterson, N.J., which is about 10 miles from MetLife Stadium. New York has the right to match any offer he receives. It would receive a first-round draft choice as compensation if he leaves.

Cruz recently dumped his agent and signed with Tom Condon, Manning's agent. Manning quipped that he has even sent Condon a couple of texts regarding the talks between Cruz and the Giants.

"Get this done!"'

Realistically, Manning said he has not interfered in the talks between Cruz and the Giants. He has talked with Cruz, but it was more the usual off-season stuff about how are things going and telling him to be ready to go to work on April 15 when offseason training starts.

Manning is not opposed to reworking his contract, which runs through 2015. His cap value will be close to $21 million this season.

"If the Giants want to work something out," the 32-year-old Manning said, "I am always up for listening, figuring out what I can do to help the cause."

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots agreed to a three-year contract extension in late February that freed up nearly $15 million in salary cap room. That didn't prevent Wes Welker, his leading receiver, from signing with the Denver Broncos, a move that will make him a target for Eli's brother, Peyton.

Eli Manning insisted that no matter what teams offer, the final decision will be with Cruz, who broke the team's single-season record for yards receiving in 2011. He had 86 catches last season for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns.

"I think he likes being here," Manning said about Cruz. "I think he fits very well into our offence. I think he realizes what he's been able to do and the success. You never know, if you go to another offence, maybe it doesn't fit as well to your style. He fits very well here, and hopefully he stays here."

Manning feels the Giants have done a good job in the free-agent market, retaining left offensive tackle Will Beatty and signing Oakland tight end Brandon Myers.

"My job is to play," he said., "and (team management's job) is to put the right team out there."

Speaking at the owners' meeting in Phoenix, Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he was staying optimistic that Cruz would re-sign.

"That's my position on that," he said. "I don't speculate in any of the other ways."

Manning has spoken with receiver Hakeem Nicks and expects him to be ready for the off-season after an injury-plagued year. He believes that second-year running back David Wilson has the talent to replace Ahmad Bradshaw, but that the team has to figure out how to use his abilities.

Manning started his off-season training program in mid-February. That's about two weeks earlier than usual, but the Giants (9-7) missed the playoffs last year after winning the Super Bowl the year before.

Eli Manning (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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