After reports that former New York Giant Victor Cruz had nailed down two teams to sign with free agency, he has now officially signed a one-year, $2 million dollar deal with the Chicago Bears. The contract is fully guaranteed. He can earn another $2 million with performance incentives.
Beyond any full press release, here’s what the Bears had to say about their salsa dancing addition on Twitter.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) May 25, 2017
That’s an example of quality branding.
The former undrafted free agent in Cruz comes to Chicago after a blazing first three seasons in the NFL where he averaged at least 1,000 yards receiving, while catching at least 73 passes, and averaged seven touchdowns per year. He was a key contributor for the Giants in their run to winning Super Bowl XLVI, including a crucial 10-reception, 142-yard performance in the 2012 NFC Championship game.
Since 2014, however, where he tore a patellar tendon in the early season, Cruz has been anything but productive, and has resembled more of a shell of his past self. (If you’re keeping track, this is the same injury linebacker Danny Trevathan suffered last November.) Due to Cruz’s injury, he missed the final 10 games of the 2014 season and the entirety of the 2015 season. In his return in 2016, he appeared in 15 games and caught just 39 passes, 586 yards, and one touchdown, all while struggling to re-acclimate to the Giants offense.
Interestingly enough, Cruz claims his statistics were down last season because the Giants were deliberately targeting him less to make their future release of him easier in public perception. Whether that’s true for a player who received 72 targets last year on an offense with the explosive superstar Odell Beckham Jr. and bright, young talent in Sterling Shepard may never be fully quantifiable.
Needless to say, it’s been a long road to recovery for the 30-year-old veteran in Cruz as he attempts to re-channel his talent with the Bears and experience a career rejuvenation catching passes from Mike Glennon, Mitchell Trubisky, or whomever is under center. He joins a receiving core with question marks led by Cameron Meredith and now faces an uphill battle in competition for the Bears’ slot receiver position. Nevertheless, the opportunity is there should he prove to have still retained a lot of his old ability. It’s a low-risk, high-reward move from all fronts.
Both the Bears and Cruz no doubt hope there are plenty of coming trademark salsa dances in the end zone.
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for the Rock River Times and is a staff writer for Windy City Gridiron. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.