A Giant Farewell
February 21, 2017
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After six seasons with the New York Giants organization, wide receiver Victor Cruz was released on Monday. The Giants save an estimated $7.5 million on the salary cap, as they attempt to maximize financial flexibility before free agency begins in March.
Cruz was a fan favorite and the Giants best receiver, when healthy, before Odell Beckham Jr. came along. In five seasons, Cruz totaled 303 catches, 4,549 yards and 25 touchdowns. Injured in a game in Philadelphia in 2014, Cruz would miss the entire the 2015 season. Had Cruz not missed this season, assuming he produced at his average career rate, he would sit second all time on the Giants receiving yards list. In reality, Cruz is 10th all-time in receiving yards for the Giants.
Undrafted out of the University of Massachusetts, the Paterson , New Jersey native first caught on with the Giants in 2010. In a preseason game against the New York Jets, Cruz went off for not one, not two, but three touchdowns, establishing a name for himself. Cruz missed most of the 2010 season; however, before becoming an everyday player in 2011. In 2012, Cruz helped the Giants defeat the Patriots for the second time in five years. He was also named to the Pro Bowl, with an impressive 86 catches for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns during the regular season.
Cruz appeared in 15 games this season, starting 12 of them. He hauled in 39 catches for 586 yards and one touchdown. With Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard now on the roster, coupled with his one year absence, Cruz saw less targets than he was used to.
While it’s sad for fans to see one of their favorite players go, it’s an understandable move from the Giants perspective. In addition to Beckham and Shepard, New York has receiving depth with Roger Lewis Jr and Dwayne Harris. Additionally, Cruz is 30 years old and it’s doubtful he’ll ever be the explosive player he once was. Injury concerns also linger, as Cruz struggled to return to full health and his return took longer than expected. Still, Cruz should draw interest around the league for the 2017 season. Reports say the Denver Broncos are one of the first teams to express interest in the wide receiver.
The days are now over of MetLife stadium erupting in cheer whenever he made a catch: “Cruuuuuuuuz!” And, there will be less salsa dancing in the endzones now that he’s gone. But Victor Cruz’s impact on the team won’t be soon forgotten. From an undrafted free agent playing for a team 15 minutes from where he grew up, to a relative unknown bursting on to the scene against the Jets in the preseason, to a star receiver on a Super Bowl winning team, Cruz has had a lasting impact on the Giants organization and their many fans around the country.