We're about to find out what sort of restricted free-agent market truly exists for Victor Cruz.
New York Giants co-owner John Mara told reporters Monday the team, as expected, will place a first-round tender on the dynamic slot receiver.
Mara also said the team has made Cruz "a very substantial offer," enough to make the 26-year-old pass-catcher a "very wealthy young man," according to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News. Cruz's camp reportedly still wants a chance to test the open market, but the tender gives New York security. Any team making a play for Cruz will be forced to hand over a first-round draft pick to the Giants.
Mara understands the risk. He told the media he wouldn't "be surprised" if Cruz is signed to an offer sheet, but reiterated the Giants hope and believe they will eventually agree to a long-term deal with Cruz.
The first-round tender (even a second-round tender) typically prevents restricted free agents from defecting, but Cruz is unique. NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported that "a ton of interest" surrounds the three-year pro, with "plenty of teams just waiting for their opening" once free agency begins Tuesday.
"There is enough interest in Cruz to make me think this could be the year someone bites on an RFA," Rapoport noted. Handing away a first-round pick might be too rich for some potential suitors, but teams know what they're getting from Cruz, and placed in the right offense -- with the right quarterback -- he can flip the switch.
Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.