Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Cruz: I Want to Stay a Giant

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Cruz: I Want to Stay a Giant

Article excerpt

GREEN BAY, Wis. - Wide receiver Victor Cruz had taken off his uniform only a few moments earlier -- perhaps peeling off that No. 80 for the final time as a Giant.

But as Cruz stood in front of his locker at Lambeau Field on Sunday night, the Paterson native made it clear: He wants to be back next season.

"Absolutely," Cruz said after the Giants' season-ending 38-13 loss to the Packers in the wild card game. "This is family. This is home. I don't know anywhere else, I don't want to know anywhere else."

Cruz has been a Giants fixture since August of 2010, when the undrafted free agent stunned everyone with a breakthrough performance in a preseason game against the Jets. He rose to stardom with the Giants, celebrating his touchdowns with his trademark salsa dance and winning a Super Bowl here in the 2011 season.

He went through tough times with the Giants, too, including the devastating knee injury which caused him to miss most of the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

Cruz returned this season, playing well, at times, in 15 games. But with only 39 catches for 586 and one touchdown, it's clear that he's no longer the formidable target he once was. And now his contract is the issue.

Before this season Cruz took a big pay cut, dropping down from a base salary of nearly $8 million to $2.4 million. But now, the 30- year-old's pay is set to skyrocket, with base salary of $6.4 million in 2017 and $7.4 in 2018.

That's likely too steep a price for the Giants to pay -- especially with the emergence of Odell Beckham Jr. and rookie Sterling Shepard. And that's why there's at least a chance that Cruz has played his last game as a Giant.

But he didn't let that cross his mind on Sunday night.

"No, I wasn't thinking about it," Cruz said. "I was just out there, playing to play."

And Cruz played pretty well -- at least early. …

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