Another New York Giants practice will take place Wednesday, and it will do so with the all-too-familiar scenario of wide receiver Victor Cruz not participating while nursing an injury.
ESPN reported this morning that Cruz, dealing with a groin injury, will not practice. Cruz has done little on the field since leaving practice eight days ago with a sore groin. Coach Ben McAdoo had said Monday that the Giants were “hoping to get him some work on Wednesday.”
Now we know that won’t happen. It also seems inconceivable at this point that Cruz would play in Saturday’s preseason game against the Buffalo Bills.
The Giants have said in the past that they need to see Cruz in game action, and his latest setback is making that possibility more distant. I left Cruz off the team in my most recent 53-man roster projection.
The possibility that the 29-year-old Cruz, who has suffered a torn patellar tendon and a serious calf injury and hasn’t played since Week 6 of the 2014 season, won’t be part of the season-opening roster, grows with each practice Cruz misses.
The Giants have three options should Cruz not be ready to open the season. Good friend and “Big Blue Chat” podcast co-host Pat Traina has already given her take on each of these possibilities. I will take this opportunity to do the same.
Carry Cruz on the 53-man roster
According to the terms of his re-structured contract, the Giants will pay Cruz $2.4 million in guaranteed base salary this season even if he never plays a down. The Giants could simply choose to carry Cruz on the 53-man roster in the hope that he will be healthy enough to contribute something within the season’s first few weeks.
The view here is that this would be a mistake. This is what the Giants did last season when Cruz suffered his calf injury in training camp. They deferred to the player and continued to let him use up a valuable roster spot even though as each week went by a return seemed less and less likely. They finally placed him on season-ending IR after wasting a roster spot for half the season.
They simply can’t do that again. That handicaps them in the event of other injuries, and also takes a roster spot away from one of the impressive, deserving young wide receivers the Giants currently have on their 90-man roster.
Place him on injured reserve
This would seem like the logical move. This way you could keep him, hold out hope that you could bring him back later in the season and got something for your $2.4 million, and not use up a roster spot while waiting for him.
Keep in mind that the NFL changed the “Designated to Return” rule this season. Teams no longer have to designate a player to return from IR. You still get to bring only one player back from IR during the season, but you do not have to designate that player when you place him on IR. You can recall any player you place on IR once the allotted time period has elapsed. There is no guarantee Cruz would be the player brought back from IR.
Cut him and move on
We have seen throughout training camp that the Giants have a number of talented young wide receivers. Roger Lewis, Tavarres King, Darius Powe and Anthony Dable all have flashed ability, but right now each would appear to be on the roster bubble. Add Geremy Davis and Myles White to the conversation if you want.
Why not give one or more of these talented young players an opportunity rather than wait ... and wait ... and wait for a 29-year-old who has had a series of major leg injuries to try and get healthy enough to show he can still be a capable NFL receiver?
Tom Coughlin got asked about Cruz nearly every week for about four months last year. Ben McAdoo gets asked about Cruz nearly every day at this point. In some ways Cruz has become more distraction, more myth, than reality to the Giants. It’s a romantic notion to think Cruz can still be the Cruz of 2011 or 2012, but at this point that seems like a fantasy.
The Giants waited for Cruz last year and got burned. Why wait this year, especially since it seems almost certain that unless he miraculously discovers the Fountain of Youth that he will be cut after this season, when you have other options? Why keep looking back to the past when the rest of your team is clearly pointed toward the future?