Art Stapleton of the Record was the first to report word of Cruz's departure.
Cruz spoke on his release and his thoughts on his time in New York in the team release:
It's been an amazing journey. I pretty much grew up in front of the eyes of this entire organization. The Giants fan base, the community, my hometown, my family. I grew up there. It's very much a family atmosphere and it's very much like leaving your family. That's what it feels like. I did some great things there. There are so many experiences, times and moments that I shared in that building with that team in that jersey. Those can't be replaced or forgotten. I'm happy I have those moments to look back on.
I'm going to miss the people there. Those are the guys that you see day in and day out. Those are the guys that you go to war with and see every day. That's the family. Those are the people that you look up to, look at, see every day and are most excited about. I definitely miss those guys. I had the chance to see them today before I left the building. I was there for an hour or two just talking to everyone. It's a good feeling. They'll always be family. People like that, when you know them that long, they don't go anywhere."
Cruz also commented on the release via his Instagram account and UNINTERRUPTED:
All great things must come to an end. @TeamVic opens up about how playing with the @Giants was a dream come true and his next career steps. https://t.co/e5RJtH1y7u2/14/2017, 12:51:35 AM
Cruz, 30, caught 39 passes for 586 yards and a touchdown in 15 games during the 2016 season.
As Mike Garafolo of NFL.com noted, Cruz was never likely to be retained by the Giants:
Mike Garafolo @MikeGarafolo
Victor Cruz was due $7.5m in 2017. Obviously he wasn't going to stay with NYG at that price.2/13/2017, 5:35:11 PM
Despite his release, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY noted Cruz would have been willing to negotiate a pay cut:
Ralph Vacchiano @RVacchianoSNY
Cruz also carried a salary cap number of $9.4 million. He had hoped to return at a pay cut, but none was offered.2/13/2017, 5:40:52 PM
Cruz's ascension to stardom was as sudden as his subsequent fall from grace. He signed with the Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2010 and made the team after an excellent preseason. He played in three games that regular season, accumulating no stats, before being placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury.
But Cruz returned in 2011 and exploded, catching 82 passes for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns. He continued to be one of the more explosive receivers in the NFL in 2012 and 2013, totaling 159 catches for 2,090 yards and 14 scores while becoming famous for his salsa-dancing touchdown celebration.
As Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk observed, Cruz's rise was uncommon:
Michael David Smith @MichaelDavSmith
Victor Cruz is maybe the best example ever of an undrafted guy who earned his roster spot by playing well in preseason games.2/13/2017, 5:43:53 PM
Six games into the 2014 season, however, Cruz tore his patellar tendon and missed the rest of the year. He was never the same after that injury. The entirety of the 2015 campaign was lost to a calf injury, and even when Cruz returned to the Giants in 2016, he had fallen down the pecking order behind superstar Odell Beckham Jr. and promising rookie Sterling Shepard.
It's likely another team will give Cruz a shot given his past performance and the fact that he's still just 30. While his days of being a No. 1 option at wide receiver are well in the past, Cruz could offer teams a solid and affordable No. 3 or No. 4 option in the passing game.