The man who helped kick-start Victor Cruz’s career may be the one who prolongs it.
The former Giants receiver will visit the Jaguars and former Giants coach Tom Coughlin on May 23, according to the NFL Network. Although that may be the most intriguing possible landing spot for Cruz, he also has plans to visit with the Bears on Monday, according to the network, and has been in discussions with the Ravens about a free-agency meeting, according to The Record of New Jersey.
They are the first visits for Cruz since he met with the Panthers shortly after the Giants released him in February.
It was Coughlin who, for all intents and purposes, introduced the world to Cruz during training camp in 2010. After a practice in which several key receivers were injured, he pointed to the unknown and undrafted rookie from Paterson, New Jersey. “What do we need anybody for?” Coughlin said. “We have Victor Cruz!”
Cruz went on to become a Pro Bowl receiver and Super Bowl champion for the Giants. He missed most of two seasons with knee and calf injuries but played in 2016. He made 39 catches for 586 yards and one touchdown last season, playing mostly out of position as an outside receiver rather than in the slot, where he always has been his most productive and dangerous.
Coughlin, the Jaguars’ executive vice president of football operations, may want Cruz to come in and help acclimate a relatively young roster to his lofty and often rigid expectations. As for his role on the field, Jacksonville has several good receivers and Cruz, 30, may find it difficult to crack the final roster or the starting lineup.
The Bears, however, present a much different landscape. They just released slot receiver Eddie Royal and may be looking for a replacement. Cruz might be able to do that. He had six more catches and 227 more receiving yards than Royal in 2016, when Royal missed seven games because of injuries.