Victor Cruz, Rashad Jennings Caught Up in Giants’ Offseason Housecleaning

The Giants are in need of some upgrades at tight end, running back and along the offensive line this spring and they will need all the free cap space they can find in order to see those additions through. That means making some hard roster decisions before free agency begins in early March.

On Monday, the Giants parted ways with WR Victor Cruz and RB Rashad Jennings, which will free up approximately $10 million in cap space this spring. Cruz, 30, is a particularly difficult cut given his background and status as an international superstar. The Paterson High kid who made the club back in 2010 as undrafted free agent out of UMass had a meteoric rise to stardom with his flare for big plays, will no longer be “salsa-ing” in the end zone at MetLife Stadium.

Jennings, 31, never became that “bell cow” back that GM Jerry Reese had hoped when he signed him to a four-year, $14 million deal back in 2014. The Giants are expected to add a running back in the draft this coming April.

“Rashad is a pro’s pro, on and off the field,” Reese said in a team release. “He came to work every day and did everything we asked him to do, and always worked extra to get better at his craft. Victor is one of the great stories of the National Football League. He came in here and earned everything that he’s gotten. It has been amazing to see him grow from an undrafted free agent to a Pro Bowl player and one of our go-to guys during the Super Bowl XLVI run. He will always be one of the great Giants.”

Cruz was nothing short of electric in his prime. After sitting out his rookie season on the injured reserve list, Cruz reeled in 82 receptions in his second season for a franchise record 1,536 yards, scoring nine touchdowns, including a 99-yarder against the Jets that became the seminal play of the Giants’ Super Bowl XLVI run. Cruz also had four touchdown catches of more than 70 yards in 2011, the first player to do that since Otis Taylor of the then-AFL Kansas City Chiefs in 1966.

In 2012, Cruz made the Pro Bowl with 86 receptions for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns. In 2013, he had 73 receptions for 998 yards and four scores. In 2014, however, his career would be derailed by a serious knee injury that would keep him off the field for a year and a half. Cruz finally returned to action this past season, but he was no longer the team’s main weapon in the passing game. The Giants had moved on by adding Odell Beckham, Jr. and Sterling Shepard in recent drafts.

Cruz will be sorely missed by Giant fans, but truth be told, he is no longer the player that he was before the injury. But he has few regrets. He has made millions on and off the field and is grateful for the opportunity the Giants and the NFL afforded him.

“It’s been an amazing journey,” Cruz said. “I pretty much grew up in front of the eyes of this entire organization. The Giants fan base, the community, my hometown, my family. I grew up there. It’s very much a family atmosphere and it’s very much like leaving your family. That’s what it feels like. I did some great things there. There are so many experiences, times and moments that I shared in that building with that team in that jersey. Those can’t be replaced or forgotten. I’m happy I have those moments to look back on.”

It doesn’t appear that many teams will be lining up to sign either of these players and there is little rumblings the Giants will reconnect with them, but never say never. The Giants have re-signed several players the past few years after releasing them such as Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Brandon Jacobs and Will Beatty.

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