2. Victor Cruz
NY Giants fans will likely never forget Victor Cruz’s salsa dancing as his signature touchdown celebration, but some forget just how productive the Super Bowl Champion and 2012 Pro-Bowl selection actually was in limited time with the NY Giants.
Cruz was remarkably an undrafted free-agent signing by the Giants in 2010 out of the University of Massachusetts. He was signed as depth at wide receiver and was expected to likely be a practice squad player for the Giants. However, after a very productive preseason with the Giants in 2010, he was named to the 53-man roster.
Unfortunately, Cruz would suffer a hamstring injury three games into the 2010 season that would cause him to be placed on injured reserve and miss the remainder of the year.
He would begin the 2011 season as the Giants fourth receiver but after a week one performance against the Philadelphia Eagles that saw Cruz turn three receptions into 110 yards receiving and two touchdowns, he would be catapulted to the top of the NY Giants receiving corps.
Cruz would become the Giants big-play receiver, helping them en route to their Super Bowl Championship in 2012 with a 10 catch and 142-yard game against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game. Incredibly, all of those stats would occur in the first half of the game.
After two solid seasons with the Giants, the team would sign him to a six-year $45.88 million deal. Unfortunately, injuries would begin to plague the career of Cruz shortly after signing the mega-deal. He would battle a heel bruise most of 2013 and would end up tearing his patellar tendon in game six of the 2014 season, resulting in him missing the remainder of the year.
Cruz would rehab to come back from the knee injury, but would never return as expected in 2015 due to a tear in his calf muscle that would require season-ending surgery. He would return in 2016 to play alongside Odell Beckham Jr. but would be a shell of his former self, totaling only 39 receptions for 586 yards and one touchdown. As a result, he would be cut by the Giants following the season.
The career of Cruz is one of what-ifs. Incredibly, he was able to amass 4,549 receiving yards and 25 receiving touchdowns despite only starting 12 or more games in three seasons. In 2011, which was the best statistical season for Cruz, he put up 1,536 yards and 9 touchdowns starting only seven games that year. He would start 16 games in 2012, the only time he would start every game of a season in his career.
Had he not been plagued by injuries, there is a good chance that Victor Cruz could have gone down as the best wide receiver in New York Giants history. His incredible statistics despite his limited playing time are a testament to his big-play potential. Unfortunately, NY Giants fans and Cruz will always be left wondering what might have been for this immensely talented wideout.