Ever since Wes Welker departed, the Denver Broncos have struggled to find a legit third receiver. It could be argued that tight end Owen Daniels filled that role in 2015, his one year with the Broncos.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1681565-5-reasons-you-should-go-p... However, Daniels was far from the explosive play-maker the Broncos needed, which is why they released him not long after they won Super Bowl 50. The team tried to get by in 2016 with a combination of receivers Jordan Norwood, Jordan Taylor and Bennie Fowler manning the WR3 role, with a little help sprinkled in by tight end A.J. Derby.
But after Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, who both exceeded the 70-catch, 1,000-yard mark on their way to the Pro Bowl, the guy with the next highest receptions was rookie running back Devontae Booker, who hauled in 31 for 265 yards.
GM John Elway is looking to upgrade Denver's receiving depth, both at the receiver and the tight end position. While that objective will likely be manifested in the Broncos draft haul, one guy who could conceivably step in and make an impact is former New York Giants stalwart Victor Cruz.
Cruz, 30, was released by the Giants on Monday. ESPN Denver's Jeff Legwold reported that the Broncos could have interest in the former Pro Bowler.
Elway, the Denver Broncos executive vice president of football operations/general manager, has said that team will be "involved in free agency." And to that end the Broncos were already working Monday to at least meet with wide receiver Victor Cruz.
The Broncos will have a relatively flush salary cap war chest, and are expected to make some splash moves in free agency this year. It wouldn't surprise me if Cruz ends up in Denver, but it'll only happen on a deal financially friendly to Denver's interests.
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Cruz suffered a severe injury to his patellar tendon in October of 2014, and then sustained a calf injury while rehabbing, causing him to miss the entire 2015 season. He appeared in 15 games this past season, hauling in 39 receptions for 536 yards and one touchdown.
But for the span of two years (2011 & 2012), Cruz was one of the most electric receivers in the game, posting back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and tallying a combined 19 touchdowns. Cruz already has a Super Bowl ring, as part of the last Giants team to hand Tom Brady and the New England Patriots a loss in the NFL World Championship.
Cruz's explosion on the NFL scene was even more impressive, considering that he went undrafted out of Massachusetts in 2010. He will likely want to land somewhere with a viable quarterback. But I can't imagine the NFL free agent market being too bullish for his services.
The book is that Cruz hasn't been the same player since he suffered his knee injury. And the Broncos quarterback situation is far from resolved.
Ultimately, Cruz would be a valuable asset to the Broncos passing game, playing in the slot and freeing up Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders for more one-on-one coverage on the outside.
The question is — at what cost?
Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.