Is Victor Cruz Still Valuable?



The Giants should rework Victor Cruz’s contract so he can return for the 2016 season. (CHRIS PEDOTA/THE RECORD/MCT)


Following his career year as a main contributor to the New York Giants’ 2011 Super Bowl Championship, Victor Cruz appeared to be on track to become a star receiver in the National Football League (NFL). However, injuries have hobbled Cruz and made many people within the Giants’ organization ask if the receiver has become expendable.

After playing just six games in 2014 and missing the entire 2015 season, it seems the organization is pressured to restructure Cruz’s contract. Additionally, Cruz will attempt to perform at a high level coming off surgeries on a torn patellar tendon and left calf in 2016. These injuries and inconsistent play for the last few seasons have led many NFL fans to ask: for a Giants team looking to the future with a new franchise receiver in Odell Beckham, Jr., is Victor Cruz still in the team’s plans?

Cruz’s veteran presence and regular play in the future would be a boon for embattled two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning as well. Cruz’s presence would stabilize the receiving corps for the Giants, and his contributions would be helpful in the pass-oriented offense that Ben McAdoo implemented last season. His days as a first option may be over, but as the team is presently constituted, Manning needs other viable receivers beside Odell Beckham Jr. There are few options for the Giants in free agency this offseason, so it makes sense for the team to attempt to bolster their roster by restructuring Cruz’s deal. The Giants could turn to their rookies or other untested players, but if they seek to make the most of the years that Manning has left, Cruz would be the best solution to try to mollify the squad’s offensive problems.

Currently, it seems that the best outcome for both parties is to rework his contract and hope to avoid injuries in the future. With injuries and declining performance in mind, the Giants would still offer Cruz more money than he would receive from any other team. There is mutual interest in a Cruz return, and it would seem mutually beneficial following restructure. If for nothing else, it is valuable to have some roster stability and returning veteran leadership for a team building for the future.

It is worth noting in these negotiations that, even when healthy, Cruz has never lived up to expectations set by his star-making 2011 season. In his last near-full season of 2013 in which he played 14 games, Cruz totaled 73 receptions, 998 yards, four touchdowns and an average of 13.7 yards-per-reception. While still respectable, even valuable for a shorthanded New York squad, these stats are a far cry from Cruz’s peak numbers. In his most productive season, during which he propelled the Giants to victory in Super Bowl XLVI, Cruz posted 82 receptions, 1,536 yards, nine touchdowns and an average of 18.7 yards-per-reception. While it would be optimistic to ask Cruz for such numbers at this point in his career, it is not unrealistic to hope for consistent contributions to the Giants’ receiving corp.

In the first season following the resignation of long-tenured head coach Tom Coughlin, the Giants are in need of leadership to improve on last season’s 6–10 record. While Victor Cruz may never challenge his career highs from 2011, a healthy, consistent 16 games could be very valuable for a Giants squad looking to generate more competitive seasons.