Victor Cruz

This Date In Transactions History: Giants Extend Victor Cruz

On this date in 2013, Victor Cruz likely performed one of the most enthusiastic salsa dances of his career. Heading into a contract year worth $2.879MM, the Giants receiver inked a five-year extension worth up to $43MM. 

It was a substantial payout for Cruz, but one that reflected his value to the club as well as the league’s increased appreciation of the slot receiver position. Lining up mostly on the inside, Cruz broke out in 2011 with 82 catches, 1,536 yards, and nine touchdowns. His 2012 encore wasn’t quite as efficient (he posted an 86/1092/10 stat line), but he was still recognized as a vital part of the Giants’ passing attack and earned his first career Pro Bowl nod.

Not wanting to risk losing Cruz to free agency after his one-year restricted free agent tender – particularly after watching him carve up the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game – the Giants moved to lock down Cruz for the long term. Cruz could have gambled by staying on track for free agency after the 2013 season, but the added security of the deal, including nearly $16MM in guarantees, provided him with financial security.

In hindsight, it was the smart play for the former undrafted free agent. Initially slowed by a heel bruise, came two yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark in 2013, despite missing two games. Unfortunately, in 2014, the course of his career changed dramatically. A torn patellar tendon ended his campaign after just six games and a calf injury in the following season put him under the knife before he could take the field.

By the time Cruz returned to action in 2016, the Giants’ offense was fully focused on Odell Beckham Jr., who routinely toasted opposing defensive backs and gobbled up targets, catches, yards, and touchdowns. At this point, Cruz’s trademark speed was no longer there, and neither was his former Rabbi, Tom Coughlin. Cruz took a pay cut to stay in the fold, but registered just 39 catches for 586 yards. The two sides were expected to hammer out a similar arrangement for his 2017 season, but they released him instead.

Cruz moved on to the Bears, but a knee injury in the final preseason game torpedoed his comeback attempt. Later, he tried to lobby the Giants to sign him via the local press, but his request went unanswered. Finally, in August of 2018, Cruz announced his retirement and entry into the world of broadcasting with ESPN.

Although Cruz’s time on top was brief, he left the game with a tremendous highlight reel, multiple productive seasons, a Super Bowl ring, and an iconic touchdown celebration that will forever be remembered by Giants fans.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Victor Cruz Announces Retirement

Victor Cruz is officially hanging up his cleats. On Tuesday, Cruz announced that he is retiring from the NFL in order to begin his broadcasting career. 

I’m excited to close down and open a new chapter and join the media world at ESPN,” Cruz said (video link). “I’m excited for the future, I’m excited for the next chapter, I’m excited for you all to be a part of this with me, and here we go.”

Cruz, 32 in November, inked a one-year, $2MM deal with the Bears last offseason. The deal included a a $500K signing bonus, but that guarantee didn’t stop the Bears from cutting him just before the start of the season. Cruz later lobbied the Giants to re-sign him after they lost Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon MarshallDwayne Harris, and Sterling Shepard to injury, but the G-Men never reciprocated interest in a reunion. As recently as May, Cruz expressed interest in continuing his NFL career.

Cruz will be fondly remembered for his best years with the Giants. From 2011 through 2013, Cruz averaged 80 receptions 1,209 yards, and averaged eight end zone salsa dances per season. Unfortunately, injuries hampered and ultimately ended his career, but Cruz’s bold personality should suit him well on the airwaves.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Victor Cruz Hopes To Continue Playing

We haven’t heard Victor Cruz‘s name much in recent months, but that doesn’t mean that he’s off of the NFL’s radar. At least, the wide receiver hopes that’s not the case. This week, Cruz said that he wants to continue playing football. 

I just love the game. I think I can still play,” Cruz said. “I don’t want to exhaust all of that before I fall off.”

Cruz, 32 in November, inked a one-year, $2MM deal with the Bears last offseason. The deal included a a $500K signing bonus, but that guarantee didn’t stop the Bears from cutting him just before the start of the season. Cruz later lobbied the Giants to re-sign him after they lost Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Dwayne Harris, and Sterling Shepard to injury, but the G-Men never reciprocated interest in a reunion.

This offseason, things have been largely quiet, though Cruz says there was some interest from teams before the NFL draft. In the last two weeks, the veteran says he hasn’t heard from teams with serious interest. Cruz says that he will retire if he doesn’t have an offer from a team by a certain date this summer, though he did not disclose the exact self-imposed cutoff point.

Once that deadline comes, if nothing has happened, I’ll hang them up,” he said. “Probably around training camp time and then we’ll go from there.”

Cruz was successful during his run with the G-Men as he averaged 80 receptions 1,209 yards, and eight touchdowns per season from 2011-13. Since that time, however, injuries have robbed Cruz of his explosiveness. He has failed to top 40 receptions or 600 yards over the past four years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Victor Cruz Doesn’t Intend To Retire

Although he didn’t appear in the NFL in 2017 after being released by the Bears in September, veteran wide receiver Victor Cruz doesn’t intend to retire, according to Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com.Victor Cruz (vertical)

“I’m going to give it one more shot and see what’s out there, see what’s in the market for me and if I can get into anybody’s camp,” said Cruz. “If not, we’ll see where it goes after that and take the necessary steps.”

Cruz, 31, inked a one-year, $2MM deal with Chicago last offseason that contained a $500K signing bonus, but that guarantee didn’t prevent the Bears from cutting the former undrafted free agent just prior to the start of the regular season. Cruz later lobbied the Giants — who had recently lost Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Dwayne Harris, and Sterling Shepard to injury — to re-sign him, but New York never expressed any interest in a reunion.

“Naturally, I was surprised [that the Giants didn’t call], being that I knew the offense and was just there a few months ago at that point,” Cruz said. “I was a little bit surprised just as a normal human being just as everybody else I came across was surprised as they (said) to me everywhere I go.”

Cruz, of course, was highly successful during his run with the G-Men, and averaged 80 receptions 1,209 yards, and eight touchdowns per season from 2011-13. Since that time, however, injuries have made Cruz a shell of himself, and he’s failed to top 40 receptions or 600 yards over the past four years.

Victor Cruz Lobbies Giants To Sign Him

The Giants are in desperate need of help at wide receiver. Still, they say that former star Victor Cruz is not an option and that is a mystery to the player. Victor Cruz (vertical)

I’ve been literally thinking to myself of reasons why they wouldn’t and I can’t think of any,’’ Cruz said on his podcast (transcription via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post).

Earlier this week, coach Ben McAdoo threw cold water on the idea that Cruz could return to the Giants’ lineup in the wake of injuries to Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard, and Dwayne Harris. That hasn’t stopped Cruz from dreaming.

Can I paint a picture for you?’’ Cruz said. “Can you imagine, if I get a phone call from the New York Giants and I go back out there wearing the number 80 in blue and I get in that end zone one more time? Do you understand? I can already hear the deafening screams from the crowd. Already, I can hear it.’’

After the Giants’ nightmare of a game, Cruz says his agent called the team to ask about a potential reunion. The agent was told that the Giants would assess their injuries and then get back to him. If the 0-5 Giants can’t get in the win column this weekend, they may want to reconsider their stance on Cruz.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Not Interested In Victor Cruz

The Giants are in extreme need of help at the wide receiver position, but the club is not interested in a reunion with free agent pass-catcher Victor Cruz, head coach Ben McAdoo told reporters, including Ralph Vacchiano of SNY (Twitter link). “To my knowledge he is not an option,” said McAdoo. “But never say never.”Victor Cruz (vertical)

Cruz, of course, spent 2010-16 with the Giants, and was especially spectacular from 2011-13, when averaged 80 receptions, 1,209 yards, and eight touchdowns per season. Following three injury-ridden years, Cruz was released by the Giants in the spring, and he subsequently implied that the club’s coaching staff intentionally phased him out of the offense because New York was planning to cut him.

Although he signed a one-year deal worth up to $4MM with the Bears, Cruz couldn’t make it past final roster cuts despite Chicago’s depleted wide receiver depth chart. Cruz reportedly suffered a knee injury during the Bears’ preseason finale, but he now has a clean bill of health. Still, he has yet to generate any known interest being cut by Chicago.

New York is in dire straits at wideout, where Odell Beckham Jr. and Dwayne Harris are both out for the season. Sterling Shepard will be sidelined for a few weeks with a sprained ankle, while Brandon Marshall — who also suffered an ankle sprain — is still being evaluated. The Giants signed Travis Rudolph and Tavarres King this morning, and they’ll join Roger Lewis as Big Blue’s only healthy receivers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.