Carolina Panthers: Why Signing Victor Cruz Makes Sense

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

After the New York Giants released Victor Cruz, his first free agency visit was with the Carolina Panthers. He could fill a major hole in their offense.

In a move that saved the team roughly 7.4 million off the cap this upcoming season, the New York Giants parted with fan favorite Victor Cruz. Now the wide receiver is on the open market, and the Carolina Panthers seem to be—and should be—in play for his services.

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After going undrafted out of UMass, it took Cruz until his second season to break out in a huge way, posting 1,536 receiving yards while helping the Giants defeat the New England Patriots for a second time in the Super Bowl. He would follow this up with another 1,000-yard season, and fall just short in 2013 with 998 receiving yards. Cruz had established himself as one of the finest slot weapons in the game, and would make a Pro Bowl in the process.

On Monday, Cruz made his initial stop with the Panthers on his free agency tour. The connection with general manager Dave Gettleman was surely a driving factor, as he served 14 years as the pro personnel director of the Giants, departing for Carolina after Cruz’s third season. Gettleman’s desire to reunite with Cruz is obvious, as he could fill a crucial role for the Panthers offense and help relieve some of the pressure off Cam Newton.

Combing through the Panthers receiving corps, it becomes evident quickly that there isn’t a true slot receiver to be found on the roster. Kelvin Benjamin, Devin Funchess, and free agent Ted Ginn all serve as outside targets, with Philly Brown serving best as the shifty underneath threat. Cruz would provide a massive upgrade over Brown at the position, and bring some much needed veteran leadership to a position room that missed Jericho Cotchery following his departure after 2015.

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Cruz would be a relatively low cost, high upside move for an offense overly dependent on long developing routes. While Newton needs massive amounts of help at the offensive tackle positions, giving him a reliable underneath receiver with a penchant for creating separation could help him out tremendously.