The Giants cleared some cap room when they released veteran receiver Victor Cruz on Monday, but they also created a hole -- and not just in fans' hearts.
Even with diminished skills and production, Cruz was the Giants' third-best receiver last season and with him gone they need a replacement on the outside. They may give unreliable rookie Roger Lewis a shot to compete after his seven-catch, 97-yard, two-touchdown season. Or they could give an actual shot to veteran Tavarres King, who had two catches for 50 yards in the regular season before his 3-73-1 explosion in the Giants' playoff game.
But really, they can probably do better on the market if they're willing to pay the price. There are some good, young, and -- perhaps most importantly -- tall receivers available. Here's a look at some of the ones the Giants could turn to when the market opens to fill Cruz's shoes on Odell Beckham, Jr.'s other side:
Alshon Jeffrey (Bears) - There isn't a more talented receiver on the market and the Giants should drool over the idea of pairing this 6-3, 218-pounder with Beckham (and with young Sterling Shepard in the slot). But the baggage and the price of the baggage are prohibitive. He missed half a season with injuries in 2015 and then was hit with a four-game suspension last year for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing-drug policy. It's possible the Bears will franchise tag him for the second straight year, but even if they don't he'll likely have so many suitors that he'll end up way out of the Giants' price range.
Terrelle Pryor (Browns) - On the surface, a 6-4, 223-pounder who just had 77 catches for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns for an awful Browns team, is enticing. But is it a positive or a negative that it was the first year this converted quarterback was a full-time receiver? The positive is that maybe he's just scratching the surface of his potential. The negative is that at 27, maybe that was his potential. Chances are it's going to cost some team $9-10 million per year to find out. The Giants may want a little less uncertainty in their big-money purchases. Also, with Beckham's contract looming on the horizon sometime in the next two years, maybe this isn't the place they want to overspend.
Kenny Britt (Rams) - He's a former first-round pick who's had some trouble off the field, though nothing in the last couple of years. He's also a chronic underachiever who's never quite shown he can be a No. 1 receiver in this league. But that's why this 6-3, 223-pounder is intriguing. He doesn't have to be a No. 1 on the Giants, and he clearly has some skills. He just caught 68 passes for 1,002 yards and five touchdowns with the Rams last season, despite their awful quarterback situation. He's still only 28 and can probably be lured home (he's a New Jersey kid who played at Rutgers) on a relatively short-term, inexpensive deal.
Kamar Aiken (Ravens) - He could be a real under-the-radar steal for someone, and he might get overlooked on the market because he had just 29 catches for 328 yards and a touchdown last season. But a lot of that had to do with a reduced role thanks to the return to health of Steve Smith and 2015 first-rounder Breshad Perriman, and the addition of Mike Wallace. But in 2015, with Smith and Perriman hurt and Wallace in Minnesota, the 6-2, 215-pound Aiken proved to be a good possession-type receiver. He was the Ravens' leading receiver, catching 75 passes for 944 yards and five touchdowns. A former undrafted free agent who has kicked around to four teams in six seasons, his ceiling may be as a No. 2 receiver. But that's exactly what the Giants need, and his price shouldn't be too high.
WR Michael Floyd (Patriots) - It's almost hard to believe he was once the 13th overall pick in the draft (2012) given all his unfulfilled potential. Given that he had only 37 catches for 488 yards and five touchdowns last season, and had an ugly DUI arrest that got him cut by Arizona, he's at the bottom of his market value. So maybe he's worth the risk. He's a big target (6-2, 220) and he's still only 27. Maybe he's not going to be the guy everyone thought he was going to be when he caught 65 passes for 1,041 yards and five touchdowns as a second-year pro in 2013. But he still might have the talent to be a decent second receiver who finds room to work in Beckham's shadow.