Victor Cruz reiterated Thursday that he wants to return to the Giants and even sounded like he understood he might need to take another pay cut to make it happen. But he also hinted that his willingness to reduce his salary might have limits this time around.
"Last year, coming off two injury-riddled seasons, I know that (a pay cut) was coming," Cruz told reporters at a Nickelodeon event in Houston. "Even this year I understand the business side of it and I understand what my numbers are, what I'm due to make next year. I understand all that stuff."
"But it's a little different having played and feeling good about myself, being confident with my abilities I can do, as opposed to last year, where it was still kind of unknown going into camp and going into OTAs. But now it feels a little bit better."
A year ago, Cruz was coming off surgeries to his right knee and his left calf that had kept him out almost two full seasons. Since he hadn't proven he could even play, he had no problem allowing the Giants to slash his salary by $6.6 million (to $1.3 million).
Cruz, 30, is due $6.4 million in salary in 2017 and a roster bonus of $1 million in early March. His salary cap number is $9.4 million and the Giants could clear $7.5 million in cap space by letting him go.
In other words, he might not have the choice on a pay cut. The Giants might just release him. As he said last week on SNY's Timeout with Taylor Rooks podcast, "Obviously the ball is in their court."
It's also possible that it's in Cruz's best interest to go elsewhere anyway. He lost his role as the Giants' slot receiver to rookie Sterling Shepard and he had only middling success playing almost exclusively on the outside last season (39 catches, 586 yards, one touchdown). He said that "in limited time and limited targets and reps and snaps (last season) I've done a good job of showing I can make plays and showing I can do some things on the field."
But he might do much better playing for a team that will play him in the slot.
"Maybe, you never know,'' Cruz said. "You got to take it as it comes, eat the food that's given to you and see how it tastes. Obviously playing the slot is something I'm best at and an opportunity to do that would definitely be great."
Then again, Cruz is also aware of a long list of former Giants teammates who have gone elsewhere late in their careers. Some of them ended up being completely miserable. Most of them had extremely limited success.
"I've been weighing that, and obviously throughout my tenure with the Giants there's been guys that have left, left for greener pastures and it hasn't been that way,'' Cruz said. "That's kind of been the Giants' - I wouldn't say curse - but kind of thing. Every guy that's left the Giants hasn't necessarily done tremendously well. I think about that, even though it might just be a mental thing and not something that's true for everyone. It definitely weighs on my psyche a little bit.''