After returning from an absence of nearly two years because of knee and calf injuries, Victor Cruz faces an uncertain future with the Giants. But the 30-year-old receiver hopes his time with the team isn’t over.
“Absolutely,” Cruz said after Sunday’s 38-13 wild-card playoff loss to the Packers. “This is family. This is home. I don’t know anywhere else. I don’t want to know anywhere else.’’
Cruz missed most of the 2014 season with a knee injury and didn’t play the entire 2015 season because of a calf injury, but he made it back to play the entire 2016 season. He scored the winning touchdown in a season-opening victory over the Cowboys, but that was the only touchdown he scored the entire season, and he finished with only 39 catches for 586 yards.
Cruz, who made the Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2010, was a major part of the team’s 2011 championship run, and he became Eli Manning’s favorite target before suffering a knee injury against the Eagles on Oct. 13, 2014.
He served as a mentor for Odell Beckham Jr. and rookie Sterling Shepard this season, but he is scheduled to make $7.4 million in 2017, and it’s almost inconceivable that the Giants will pay him that much. He likely will be asked to take a pay cut or be released outright.
He hopes the latter scenario doesn’t happen but said it wasn’t on his mind during Sunday’s game.
“No, I wasn’t thinking about it,” he said. “I was just out there, playing to play.”
Cruz finished with three catches for 30 yards, all in the first half.
“We just didn’t get it done,” he said. “A couple of those red zone trips [in the first half] go the other way, who knows how this game unfolds. Those two early trips in the red zone, if we could have put some points on the board, who knows.”
The Giants gave up a Hail Mary touchdown pass at the end of the first half but closed the gap to 14-13 in the third quarter on Eli Manning’s 41-yard touchdown pass to seldom-used Tavarres King. Those would be the last points the Giants would manage. The Packers scored the final 24 points of the game, and Aaron Rodgers finished with four touchdown passes.
“We’ve just got to learn from this,” Cruz said. “Young guys that haven’t been — this is their first time [in the playoffs] — just learn from their experience, learn what this feeling is right now and just move forward.”
Cruz was among the Giants receivers, including Beckham, who went to South Florida after last Sunday’s game against Washington, a move that elicited criticism from some fans who felt they weren’t concentrating enough on football. But he was in no mood to discuss whether the trip had an impact on the game.
Asked if the trip was a distraction, Cruz said, “No. Next question.”
He added, “We’re all not satisfied with how we performed. We left a lot out on the field.”
Cruz soon will find out whether that was the last time he’ll be on a field as a Giant.