The Victor Cruz era with the New York Giants is over. On Monday the Giants released the former undrafted free agent wide receiver in order to free up cap space. Cruz would have counted $9.4 million against the cap in 2017.
Even though Cruz is 30 and he’s two and a half years removed from major knee surgery after suffering a patellar tendon tear in 2014, and he had a very subpar 2016 season, he will still sign with a team this off-season. Below are some possible landing spots for Cruz, in no particular order, assuming he doesn’t re-sign with the Giants at a cheaper deal.
Possible Victor Cruz Landing Spots
Cruz going to any team in the NFC East not named the Giants, but particularly the Dallas Cowboys, isn’t what Giants fans want to see. But this could really happen. Cruz wants to suit up next season and he believes he still can contribute on the field. He would love to go to a contender, which Dallas will be in 2017.
Terrance Williams, the Cowboys number two receiver behind Dez Bryant, will be a free agent this off-season. Even though Williams has failed to perform consistently in Dallas, he will command more money this off-season than will Cruz. Jason Garrett and the rest of the Cowboys organization might want to sign Cruz for less than it would take to re-sign Williams. If that happens, and the salsa dancing receiver is any semblance of himself prior to his injury, he could be a very dangerous number two receiver opposite Bryant in 2017.
Steve Smith Sr. had planned to retire after the 2015 season, but then the Baltimore Ravens receiver was lost for the rest of that season after tearing his Achilles. The tough receiver then decided to come back for one more campaign in 2016, but he won’t be back in 2017.
Even with the talented Smith Sr. on the roster heading into the 2017 season the Ravens would have needed help at receiver. Without him it’s even more important that Baltimore addresses the receiver position this off-season. They do have some talented receivers on the roster, like Breshad Perriman, but he’s simply not a receiver Joe Flacco and the Ravens can consistently rely on yet. Mike Williams is a heck of a deep threat, but that’s all he is. Williams isn’t a receiver who can help move the chains on a consistent basis.
True, Cruz was far from him old self in 2016 where he caught 39 passes for 586 yards and had only one touchdown. But John Harbaugh’s team needs to help out their quarterback and add some receivers this off-season. If they do, and Cruz could be a good fit, and they fix some other deficiencies, Baltimore could potentially be a playoff team in 2017, after going 8-8 and finishing in second place in the AFC North in 2016.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went 9-7 in 2016, Jameis Winston’s second year under center, and just missed out on taking part in the playoffs. Tampa Bay must address the defensive side of the ball this off-season if they want to take that next step in 2017. But they can key in on those areas via other free agent signings or, more importantly, through this year’s draft.
As of now the Bucs don’t really have anyone to play opposite of the incredibly Mike Evans. Tampa Bay needs to provide Winston some more weapons to throw to and signing Cruz would be a low risk, but potentially high reward move. If Cruz can play at anywhere near the level he was prior to his injury he could be a key piece the Bucs need on offense.
Other Teams Being Mentioned
Both the Jacksonville Jaguars (because former Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is now their executive vice president) and Carolina Panthers (because former Giants pro personnel director Dave Gettleman is now their general manager) are being listed as possible destinations for Cruz. But it is doubtful Cruz ends up in either Jacksonville or Carolina. Cruz would probably pass on signing with a team, like Jacksonville, that is so far away from being a true contender in the NFL and Carolina doesn’t really need take any kind of a chance on him.
The San Francisco 49ers, who will enter the 2017 season under first year head coach Kyle Shanahan are being mentioned as a team Cruz would possibly sign with. It might make sense for the 49ers who could use help at receiver and a veteran presence in the locker room, but why would Cruz want to join that dumpster fire out in San Francisco? Cruz can do better than the 49es.
Another team being floated out there is the New England Patriots. It would be extremely like Bill Belichick to sign Cruz to a very team friendly deal this off-season, but the Cowboys, Ravens and Buccaneers all make more sense.