Victor Cruz, released in February after seven seasons with the Giants, appeared on the nationally-syndicated radio show The Breakfast Club on Thursday morning, and implied that New York intentionally suppressed his production last year.
Holding his numbers down, Cruz said, both made it so the Giants wouldn’t have to pay incentives in his contract and to make it easier to cut him.
“I felt it all year long. Halfway through the year I’m ballin’, the other half I’m not getting the ball,” Cruz 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.’
“A lot of people probably don’t know this… Let’s say I played well, was a 1,000-yard receiver last year, it would have been more difficult from a fan perspective to cut me.”
Cruz announced that he has signed with the Chicago Bears for 2017. NFL Network reported that he was for a one-year deal. The Bears now have added Cruz, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright and Rueben Randle to pair with Kevin White, who has done almost nothing his first two seasons, and Cameron Meredith.
Cruz returned to the field in 2016 after missing most of 2014 and all of 2015 to injury. Playing in 15 games, he totaled 39 catches for 586 yards and just one touchdown (he was targeted 72 times). Looking at his game-by-game numbers does lend some credence to Cruz’s argument: through the first seven contests, he was targeted 41 times, with 24 catches. Over his final eight games, he had just 15 receptions, nearly half of those — eight — coming in the season’s penultimate game, against the Eagles.
Cruz was asked if he believed quarterback Eli Manning played a role in his diminished second-half numbers, but he said he doubted that was true.
“It’s hard to believe. Even just to think about someone coming up to the quarterback and saying, ‘hey, don’t throw it here’ or ‘don’t give it to this guy’ – it’s hard to even fathom that thought, which I don’t even know or think that happens. I doubt it,” Cruz said. “But when you look at the film and look at how it goes down, it’s the only way.”
The 30-year old became a salsa-dancing sensation in 2011, when he shot from undrafted rookie the season before to an 82-catch, 1,500-yard performance.
Cruz admitted it hurt to be released by the Giants.
“It hurt, to be real. I gave so much to them. Seven years,” he said. “It definitely hurt … but every run has to stop at some point.”