Buying or selling Victor Cruz's 2017 return to the New York Giants
Dec 22, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz (80) points to the sky before a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

If the New York Giants are to bring back wide receiver Victor Cruz in 2017 it will have to be at a vastly reduced cost.

New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz has been one of the team’s most beloved players ever since he burst onto the scene during the 2011 Super Bowl run.

As he went from undrafted free agent to Pro Bowler, his end zone salsa dancing, New Jersey roots, and good nature endeared fans enough to bellow the cheer “Cruuuuuzzz!” every time he caught the football.

Unfortunately, a torn patellar tendon in 2014 followed by calf surgery in 2015, forced Cruz to go 700 days without playing in an NFL game. After being sidelined for so long, the veteran receiver restructured his contract with New York to reduce his $7.9 million base salary to a base of just $1.3 million with $2.5 million guaranteed in 2016.

Though Cruz missed just one game this season, he clearly was not the same player he once was and his numbers showed it. The 30-year old finished with just 39 catches for 586 yards and one score. By comparison, through the six games he played in 2014 before his injury, Cruz totaled 23 receptions for 337 yards and a touchdown. Had Cruz played a full season in 2014, his 2016 numbers would have been career lows across the board.

The 30-year old finished with just 39 catches for 586 yards and one score. By comparison, through the six games he played in 2014 before his injury, Cruz totaled 23 receptions for 337 yards and a touchdown. Had Cruz played a full season in 2014, his 2016 numbers would have been career lows across the board.

With an upcoming cap hit of $9.4 million and set to make a base salary of $6.4 million in 2017, there’s no way the Giants can afford to keep Cruz on the roster at his current price tag. His production simply no longer justifies the money he’s getting paid.

According to Spotrac, Cruz carries a dead money value of only $1.9 million should New York choose to part ways with him. That’s a considerable amount the team would save by simply ridding themselves of his contract.

Still, though his numbers were not of the Pro Bowl caliber they once were, Cruz was a serviceable pass catcher in 2016. Once an offensive captain, he also provides veteran leadership to a young core of wide receivers. Additionally, Cruz’s clear desire to be back in New York next season makes a departure less likely.

“This is family for me, this is home, I don’t know anywhere else, I don’t want to know anywhere else, so we’ll see how this year unfolds,’’ Cruz told Paul Schwartz of the New York Post.

Giants’ head coach Ben McAdoo is also in favor of the veteran returning for another campaign with New York next season.

The bottom line is Victor Cruz still has the talent to an NFL wide receiver, just not an elite one. If he wants to be a Giant next year Cruz will have to accept a paycheck which reflects that.

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