Victor Cruz

Extra Points: Broncos, Ward, Dorsett

The Broncos did not discuss a pay cut with safety T.J. Ward before releasing him on Saturday, Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post tweets. “It was a football decision,” a team source tells her, adding that the motivation was to give more playing time to Justin Simmons and Will Parks. Meanwhile, Broncos players are upset about losing Ward and his locker room presence, James Palmer of NFL.com tweets.

While Ward searches for a new home, here’s more from around the NFL:

  • The Colts had offers for Phillip Dorsett from other teams, but those proposed swaps involved draft choices instead of netting a young player at a positional need, Mike Lombardi of The Ringer tweets. Lombardi doesn’t name teams, but Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link) says the 49ers, Jets and Cardinals were among the teams that showed preliminary interest in him.
  • The Jets are expected to be interested in running back Travaris Cadet now that he has been released by New Orleans, Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle tweets. The Jets showed interest in Cadet during free agency but ultimately lost out.
  • T.J. McDonald‘s new deal with the Dolphins has built in protections for the team that will override his guarantees if he has another suspension issue, Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald tweets. The pact includes $10MM in “guarantees,” but McDonald can’t slip up if he wants to collect on all of it.
  • Wide receiver Victor Cruz says that he got a “clean bill of health” on his MRI this week, Josina Anderson of ESPN.com tweets. He’s now a free agent after being released by Chicago.
  • Chiefs GM Brett Veach says veteran running back C.J. Spiller could still end up on the Chiefs’ roster (Twitter link via BJ Kissel of Chiefs.com). Spiller was among the Chiefs’ mass cuts on Saturday as they trimmed down to 53.

Bears Release Victor Cruz

The Bears have released wide receiver Victor Cruz, Josina Anderson of ESPN tweets.

Victor Cruz (vertical)

This is the latest setback in the career of Cruz, a former star who has dealt with significant injury issues in recent years. Cruz suffered a knee injury during the Bears’ preseason finale on Thursday and will undergo an MRI, per Anderson (on Twitter).

A longtime Giant, Cruz played just six games from 2014-15, and while he bounced back last year to appear in all but one of Big Blue’s contests, he only one caught 39 passes and one touchdown. At his best, Cruz combined for between 73 and 86 receptions in each season from 2011-13, earning a Pro Bowl nod in 2012.

The 30-year-old Cruz joined the Bears in May on a deal worth up to $4MM. Chicago will save $1.97MM of Cruz’s $2.47MM cap hit, but it’s even thinner at receiver after losing Cameron Meredith to a season-ending injury last week. The Bears are now down to Kevin White, a 2015 first-rounder who has battled injuries during his short career, Markus Wheaton and Josh Bellamy, among others, at the position.

NFC Notes: Redskins, Bears, Lions

Running back Matt Jones, who’s not in the Redskins’ plans, would like the team to trade or cut him, reports John Keim of ESPN.com. For now, the Redskins have no plans to cut the two-year veteran, according to Keim, though he notes that teams around the NFL ultimately expect that to happen. Although he averaged an impressive 4.6 yards per carry on 99 attempts last season, the fumble-prone Jones is now at the bottom of Washington’s backfield depth chart.

More from two other NFC cities:

  • Bears wide receiver Cameron Meredith suffered a thumb ligament injury Thursday that will keep him out until training camp, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He’s the second OTA casualty for Chicago, joining quarterback Mark Sanchez, who suffered a knee injury earlier this week. Meredith is clearly the more important player for the Bears, having posted 66 receptions, 888 yards and four touchdowns as a second-year man in 2016.
  • The Bears’ newest receiver, Victor Cruz, can earn up $4MM on his one-year contract, relays Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Cruz’s deal includes a $500K signing bonus, $500K in per-game roster bonuses and a chance to rake in $2MM in incentives.
  • The Lions are done deploying a fullback, head coach Jim Caldwell revealed Wednesday (via Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press). Caldwell’s announcement came a day after the Lions waived fullback Michael Burton, who only played 95 offensive snaps last season. “The reason why Burton’s no longer here is because that position as you’d call it (designated as a) fullback, is not part of how we function,” Caldwell said. “We find a way to get done with other positions, tight end and things of that nature.”
  • As a guest on “The Carriker Chronicles” podcast, Lions starting running back Ameer Abdullah opened up about the foot injury that ended his season in Week 2 last year. “I ended up tearing my Lisfranc the second game of the season against the Tennessee Titans, separating my foot, so that was a bummer for me,” Abdullah told former NFLer Adam Carriker (per Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com). “But I’m shaking back good now. It’s helped me understand my body more, so I’m a lot more penciled in on what I need to do as far as recovery, make sure I’m [doing all the] right things for my body to make sure I’m ready for this 2017 season.”

NFC Notes: Hawks, Giants, Eagles, Cowboys

ESPN’s Seth Wickersham reported Thursday that Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has been holding a grudge against both quarterback Russell Wilson and head coach Pete Caroll since the team’s devastating Super Bowl XLIX loss to the Patriots in 2015. But Sherman and defensive end Michael Bennett insist that’s not true (via Kevin Patra of NFL.com). “It’s just a bunch of nonsense from ‘anonymous’ sources. Can never put much gravity of things like that,” said Sherman, who, according to Wickersham, “allowed himself to imagine playing for the Cowboys” when Seattle placed him on the trade block earlier this spring. Bennett, meanwhile, dismissed the article as “trash” and “all gossip.”

The latest from the NFC East…

  • In an interview with 105.1 FM in New York on Thursday, now-Bears wide receiver Victor Cruz implied that the Giants didn’t involve him in their offense more last year because they knew they’d release him in the offseason (per Ralph Vacchiano of SNY). “Halfway through the year, you’re like, ‘OK, I’m balling,’ and then the other half I’m not getting the ball,” he said. “And you’re just like, ‘What’s going on?’ It was like, ‘OK, I see what’s happening. They don’t want me here anymore.’” Continued Cruz, who caught 39 of 72 targets in 2016: “If I played well, they owed me a ton of money that next year. So it was like, ‘let’s get Cruz off the books.'” Unsurprisingly, head coach Ben McAdoo refuted Cruz’s claims, telling reporters that “there is no accuracy” to the wideout’s theory (via Lorenzo Reyes of USA Today).
  • Cutting receiver Nelson Agholor would cost the Eagles more money than they’d save ($4.68MM versus $2.56MM), but his roster spot nonetheless looks to be in jeopardy, writes Andrew Kulp of CSNPhilly.com. Philadelphia signed two proven receivers in March, Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, to join Jordan Matthews, which could further marginalize Agholor. A first-round pick just two years ago, Agholor caught only 59 of 114 targets and three touchdowns from 2015-16.
  • It continues to look as though Cowboys offensive lineman La’el Collins will move to right tackle after functioning as a left guard during his first two seasons. Collins has lined up solely at right tackle during organized team activities this week and will likely continue to do so leading up to the season, according to Kate Hairopoulos and Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News. The position opened up in Dallas when starter Doug Free retired earlier this offseason, and if Collins fills it, either Jonathan Cooper or Emmett Cleary could take over at left guard, per Hairopoulos and George.

Bears To Sign WR Victor Cruz

The Bears are signing former Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, according to Kimberly Jones and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). It will be a one-year deal. 

As PFR’s Sam Robinson detailed recently, Cruz is a logical fit for Chicago. The Bears lost Alshon Jeffery in free agency this offseason (without much of a fight) and Kevin White cannot be counted upon given his injury concerns. The Bears added Kendall Wright and Markus Wheaton this spring to help fill the void and Cruz is the latest addition to bolster the WR group.

In addition to Cruz and the aforementioned Wright, White, and Wheaton, the Bears have Cameron Meredith atop the WR depth chart. Joshua Bellamy, Deonte Thompson, and Daniel Braverman are among the other WRs presently on the 90-man roster.

After missing the majority of the 2014 season and sitting out the entire 2015 season, the salsa-dancing fan favorite clearly lost a step in 2016 as he caught 39 passes for 586 yards and one touchdown in 15 games. However, the 30-year-old (31 in November) might be able to recapture some of his old magic if he is used in the slot.

In his best seasons, Cruz was a legitimate star for the Giants. He burst on to the scene in 2011 by catching 82 passes for 1,536 yards and nine scores. His encore saw him set a new career high with 86 grabs for 1,092 yards and ten touchdowns, earning him a trip to the Super Bowl.

Before agreeing to sign with Chicago, the Jaguars scheduled a visit with Cruz, but that was cancelled for unknown reasons. The Ravens also reportedly expressed interest in him.

Photo via Pro Football Rumors on Instagram.

6 Possible Fits For Victor Cruz

Victor Cruz is starting to generate some interest months after the Giants ended his lengthy New York tenure in February. But the slot receiver is far removed from his best seasons, ones that occurred before multiple leg injuries sidetracked his career.

But there’s still a market for the 30-year-old wideout, probably on a short-term arrangement to see what the former Pro Bowler has left. Cruz met with the Panthers before the draft, but they went in another direction. The 2012 Pro Bowler also went on visits to discuss a potential role with the Jaguars and Bears last week, and the Ravens expressed interest as well.

Here are some of the fits for Cruz as he attempts to re-establish himself on another team following the down years that marred the second half of his Giants tenure:

  • Ravens — Baltimore lost both Steve Smith and Kamar Aiken and has done little to help its receiving corps this offseason. The Ravens did not draft a wideout despite a depth chart that’s headlined by 2016 street free agent Mike Wallace and injury risk Breshad Perriman. Cruz would stand to be a far more proven inside complement for this team compared to what is currently on the roster. A rumored Cruz/Ravens summit hasn’t occurred yet, but the Ravens are believed to be targeting veteran UFAs that would likely serve niche roles this season.
  • Raiders — Oakland made some flashy additions to an offense that was already among the league’s best. Marshawn Lynch, Jared Cook and Cordarrelle Patterson will see plenty of time for the rejuvenated team, but the Raiders still don’t have a surefire No. 3 wide receiver. Former UDFA Seth Roberts did not build on his promising spurts in 2015, and Patterson has made his name as a kick returner. The former first-round pick hasn’t been a consistent receiving threat. The Raiders are targeting extensions for Derek Carr, Gabe Jackson and Khalil Mack, but a low-end Cruz pact — likely for one year — wouldn’t stand to impede those pursuits much.
  • Browns — If Cruz visited the Bears, he’s not dead set on playing for a team in position to contend now. The Browns look to have made a mistake by cutting Taylor Gabriel last summer, and they don’t have much beyond Kenny Britt and Corey Coleman despite a sizable wideout corps acquired in last year’s draft. Cruz doesn’t fit a rebuilding team, but Cleveland has young quarterbacks Cody Kessler and DeShone Kizer. A better target to help over the middle would stand to aid in these passers’ development. Cruz did haul in 39 passes for 586 yards last season; that’s over 300 more than any current Browns WR3 candidate did.
  • Jaguars — The obvious connection to Tom Coughlin makes this avenue somewhat viable, and the parties getting together for a meeting makes Jacksonville a candidate. It’s just more difficult to see where Cruz would play than some of these other teams. The Jags already have starters Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, and Marqise Lee put together his best season in 2016. While Robinson and Lee are UFAs after the season, Cruz as of now does not profile as a player that would command a multiyear deal and factor into longer-term planning.
  • Lions — Detroit has two locked-in starters in Marvin Jones and Golden Tate, and the franchise selected 6-foot-4 wideout Kenny Golladay in Round 3. The Lions, though, could still use another veteran here, especially if Ameer Abdullah‘s injury history continues to force passing-down specialist Theo Riddick — himself a season-ending injury casualty last season — into the backfield. That said, the Lions are a candidate to re-sign Anquan Boldin, which would negate this path.
  • Bears — Also an interesting match despite the visit, Chicago has lost some marquee receiving weapons in recent years. Brandon Marshall made another franchise regret a trade in 2015, and Alshon Jeffery‘s defection to the Eagles leaves the Bears in transition mode here. Kevin White‘s rampant injury struggles don’t make the former top-10 pick a safe bet either, leaving Cameron Meredith as their de facto WR1. But the Bears signed both Kendall Wright and Markus Wheaton. While neither can match Cruz at his best, and both did not thrive in their contract years, but Chicago adding both may make the ex-Giant superfluous and create some interesting debates on which wideouts to shuttle to special teams.

Which of these teams do you think would be the best fit for the would-be eighth-year veteran? Who did we leave off that you think would make for a logical destination? Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears To Meet With Victor Cruz

Finally, things are picking up for Victor Cruz. The former Giants wide receiver will meet with the Bears on Monday, Kim Jones of NFL Network tweetsVictor Cruz (vertical)

This marks the second known scheduled meeting for Cruz and the third reported team with interest in the veteran. Cruz will head to Jacksonville later this month to meet with the Jaguars and the Ravens are working to line up a visit as well.

The Bears have already made major changes to their wide receiver group after moving on from Alshon Jeffery and parting ways with Eddie Royal. Now, they project to have major roles for free agent additions Kendall Wright and Markus Wheaton plus the returning Cameron Meredith and Kevin White. Cruz would probably have to take a backseat to most of those younger talents if he comes to Chicago, but he might be able to carve out a role in the slot. Some of Mike Glennon‘s early struggles in Tampa Bay were attributed to a lack of a slot option, so he would probably having Cruz.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens Interested In Victor Cruz

It’s not just the Jaguars who are thinking about adding Victor Cruz. The Ravens are interested in Cruz and that interest is being reciprocated by the veteran wide receiver, Art Stapleton of The Bergen Record tweets. The two sides are hammering out the details to line up a potential visit in Baltimore. Victor Cruz (vertical)

[RELATED: Jaguars To Host Victor Cruz On Visit]

Cruz has been on the open market since February but hasn’t attracted a ton of interest. The Panthers met with Cruz shortly after he was released and the Broncos – depending on who you ask – may have discussed him internally, but we have basically gone three months without hearing a peep about the former Giant. Now that the draft is over and teams are getting a better sense of where the roster is, we have at least two teams that are mulling the possibility of Cruz.

Cruz says that he is not at all interested in retiring, but he’ll have to be realistic about where he is at this stage of his career if he wants to move forward. After missing the majority of the 2014 season and sitting out the entire 2015 season, the salsa-dancing fan favorite clearly lost a step in 2016 as he caught 39 passes for 586 yards and one touchdown in 15 games. The 30-year-old (31 in November) might be able to recapture some of that old magic if he is used in the slot, but it’s hard to imagine the Ravens or any other team giving him a significant guarantee on his next deal.

The Ravens would be a logical landing spot for Cruz given their need at the position and their affinity for older receivers. Following Steve Smith‘s retirement and Kamar Aiken‘s free agent departure, the Ravens currently project to go into the season with Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman, Chris Moore, and Michael Campanaro as their top four receivers. Vince Mayle, Chris Matthews, and Navy product Keenan Reynolds are among those jockeying for the final one or two WR spots on the 53-man roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars To Host WR Victor Cruz On Visit

Victor Cruz will visit the Jaguars, as Tom Pelissero of USA Today tweets. He’ll be in Jacksonville on May 23-24 and he’ll work out for the team while he’s there.Victor Cruz

[RELATED: Jaguars Release LB Marcus Rush]

So far, Cruz hasn’t garnered much interest on the open market, but the veteran says that he wants to continue playing and has no plans to retire. It’s possible that he could find a landing spot in Jacksonville where his former coach Tom Coughlin is now calling the shots. Cruz caught 303 passes and 25 touchdowns under Coughlin’s watch with the Giants, so this seems like a natural fit for the 30-year-old.

The Jaguars have a solid receiver group headlined by Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and Marqise Lee. There has been some talk of the Jags using rookie Dede Westbrook as their slot receiver this year, but it might also make sense for them to bring in a vet like Cruz to help him get acclimated to the role.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Victor Cruz Plans To Continue Playing

Victor Cruz hasn’t garnered much interest on the open market, but he’s not about to retire from football. The former Giants wide receiver says that he has no plans to quit and insists that he can “still play,” (Twitter link via Zach Braziller of the New York Post). Victor Cruz (vertical)

Cruz was on the field for 15 regular season games last year but the Giants still released him this offseason in order to free up $7.5MM in cap space. The salsa dancing wide receiver visited the Panthers soon after being cut, but he left Charlotte, North Carolina without a deal. The Panthers have added three wide receivers this offseason via free agency, but that door theoretically could still be open after they did not select a wide receiver in the draft. Former Buccaneer Russell Shepard has the ability to play in all three wide receiver spots, but Cruz could be a consideration as a slot specialist.

Cruz caught 303 passes and 25 touchdowns as a member of the Giants. With millions of dollars in the bank and a Super Bowl ring, no one would blame the 30-year-old for retiring, but he sounds determined to take the field in 2017.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.