Victor Cruz believes the Giants planned to cut him well before last season ended and says his paltry numbers are proof.
“Halfway through the year, you’re like, ‘OK, I’m balling,’ and then the other half I’m not getting the ball,” the wide receiver argued during an interview this week with 105.1 FM’s “The Breakfast Club.”
“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.’”
On Thursday, seeing some of the firestorm his comments had created, Cruz issued a conciliatory statement via social media, though he didn’t retreat from his insinuation of a conspiracy to suppress his stats: “I love the Giants, they gave me a platform no one else did. I am forever grateful! I never said I was sabotaged, don’t believe these headlines.”
The 30-year-old Cruz, who is still a free agent, though he has visited with the Panthers, Bears and Jaguars, played 90 percent of the offensive snaps and had 25 catches on 42 targets for 377 yards and one touchdown in the first eight games of last season, according to NJ.com. In the second half of the season, his numbers declined considerably. He played 57 percent of the snaps and had 14 catches on 30 targets for 209 yards and no touchdowns. He missed one game, in Week 10, with a sprained ankle.
The Giants saved $7.5 million against the cap by cutting Cruz, who was due to make $9.4 million.
“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,” he said. “If I’m a 1,000-yard guy, they’re like, ‘Why are you cutting Cruz? He just had 1,000 yards and had five or six touchdowns. That doesn’t make sense.’
“But if I have 500 yards or whatever the case may be, it’s a little easier on the fans to be like, ‘Oh, he didn’t play well, so that’s why they cut him.’ And if I played well, they owed me a ton of money that next year so it was like, ‘Let’s get Cruz off the books.’”
One of the hosts suggested that would explain why Cruz was open and didn’t get the ball.
“I’m glad you see it,” he responded.
The other host asked if a quarterback — in this case Eli Manning — would really not throw to an open receiver, but Cruz didn’t back down.
“It’s hard to believe,” Cruz said. “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 happens. I doubt it. But when you look at the film and you look at how it goes down, that’s the only way.”
It seems hard to believe, considering the Giants stuck with Cruz after he appeared in just six games between the 2014 and 2015 seasons because of injury. And he rarely created separation. Even on big plays, he often was defended closely. But he seems certain of his claims.
“This year it was like, ‘Look, you took a pay cut last year, we want to move in another direction.’ That was the first thing they said to me when I walked in,” Cruz said. “And you know it. I felt it all year long.”