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Victor Cruz’s Season Ends Before It Even Began

#TheReturn will have to wait another year, as the Giants announced yesterday WR Victor Cruz will undergo season-ending surgery on his injured calf.

Cruz had seemingly been nearing a return from the nagging calf injury that has kept him out all season before tearing it while attempting to run routes last weekend.

Cruz’s 2014 season came to a brutal end when he suffered a torn patellar tendon, an injury that sidelined him into this year’s training camp. He would return from the devastating knee injury, but soon after suffered a calf strain that prevented him from getting back on the field.

The receiver never seemed to have a firm timetable for his return, constantly being considered week-to-week. Earlier this month, it finally seemed like Cruz was making strides, and a return following the Giants’ Week 11 bye seemed a realistic possibility.

However, all of that progress was reversed on Saturday when Cruz tore the injured calf while attempting to run routes. Cruz and the Giants are finally putting the kibosh on his comeback attempt, and he will head to season-ending injured reserve.

(Photo: Getty Images)

(Photo: Getty Images)

It’s a sad turn of events for a fan favorite and one of the better underdog stories in the NFL over the past few years.

Cruz went undrafted out of UMass in 2010 before latching on with the Giants in training camp. He didn’t seem like much more than an end-of-the-bench depth receiver until an incredible performance in Week 3 of that preseason, when he scored three touchdowns against the Jets.

Cruz went on to play in just three games as a rookie, and didn’t record a catch. But his big break would come during his sophomore season in 2011.

Cruz burst onto the scene in his second pro season, catching 82 passes for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns in the regular season while also taking the league by storm with his now-famous salsa dance touchdown celebration. Perhaps his biggest salsa dance came in Super Bowl 46, when he scored en route to an upset win over the Patriots.

Cruz continued to be a valuable weapon for the Giants in 2012, and was rewarded with a five-year, $43 million extension prior to the 2013 season. Unfortunately, he has not lived up to that contract since.

In 2013, Cruz posted a respectable 998 yards on 73 catches, but reached the end zone just four times in 14 games. And even before his knee injury, he struggled last season, managing just 23 catches for 337 yards and one touchdown in six games.

Since Cruz’s injury, Odell Beckham has solidified himself not just as the Giants’ No. 1 receiver, but one of the best receivers in the league. His dominance could make Cruz expendable this offseason.

Cruz is due $7.9 million in base salary, and will count for $9.9 million against the cap in 2016. As great as Cruz has been for the Giants throughout his career, it’s hard to justify dedicating nearly $10 million to a No. 2 receiver who, by next September, will not have played in a game in 23 months.

Expect the Giants to ask Cruz to take a pay cut, if they don’t give him his outright release.

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