What merits a big payday for Cruz?
July, 2, 2013
By Steve Martinez | ESPNNewYork.com
Elsa/Getty Images Victor Cruz has the skill set to do a lot of damage.Yesterday, we told you what Victor Cruz needs to improve in his game in order to earn the new contract he is slated to sign with the New York Giants.
Today, we tell you what Cruz has done and should continue to do in order to again be one of the most productive receivers in the NFL.
In just three seasons (he missed nearly all of 2010 with a hamstring injury), Cruz has made his mark on both the Giants' and the NFL's record book. In 2011, he set the single-season Giants receiving record with 1,536 yards.
Despite missing the 2010 season, Cruz has compiled the most receiving yards (2,628) in his first three seasons by an undrafted free agent since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.
Cruz holds the record for the longest reception in Giants franchise history (99 yards, Dec. 24, 2011 vs. the Jets), and has made a habit of routinely breaking big gains on his opponents.
Cruz is known for his ability to tack on yardage after the catch. His 924 yards after the catch since 2011 lead the Giants and rank fourth-most among all NFC players. He has also converted long gains into touchdowns with great success.
Over the past two seasons, Cruz has seven touchdown receptions of 40 yards or more. Only Jordy Nelson has more such receptions in that span with eight. In that same time span, Cruz is tied with Nelson for the most touchdown receptions of 25 yards or more.
Of anywhere on the field, Cruz has really made the most of his talents out of the slot position, where he has been among the very best in the NFL since 2010.
This is evidenced by his league-leading 15 touchdowns out of the slot in that time span.
Looking at last season, Cruz led the NFL in TD receptions out of the slot, while also ranking high in slot receptions and total yards.
Since 2011, Cruz trails only the well-established slot-receiving threat Wes Welker in first-down receptions and yards after the catch from the slot.
As far as being a deep threat out of the slot, Cruz was the NFL’s very best on plays of 20 or more yards from that position over the past two seasons. No player has more receptions, touchdowns or yards on 20-plus-yard plays from the slot than Cruz.
It’s safe to say the Giants hope the slot machine is open for business for many years to come.