It was a few years ago that the trio of Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and Mario Manningham was regarded as one of the most dangerous receiving corps in the NFL. Now—to bring about a well-documented story—Cruz has been keeping his distance from the Giants organization in the midst of a contract dispute.
With the New York Giants’ team leader, Eli Manning, expressing tenuous amounts of certainty that Cruz will make an appearance for training camp, it is clear that the Giants must be prepared for a Cruz holdout.
This scenario, while still hypothetical, invokes a question: can Giants’ wideout Jerrel Jernigan—entering his third NFL season—fill the void left by Cruz in the event of a non-appearance?
From Troy University, Jernigan was selected in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft—a pick that was presumptively intended to fill the void left by the recently departed Steve Smith. However, it is now widely known that Cruz filled the role that Jernigan was selected to fill for the last two seasons.
Going into his third professional season, Jernigan’s time has been largely confined to special teams—totaling only 22 receiving yards over the past two years.
The impasse between Cruz and the Giants’ brass doesn’t appear to have a foreseeable conclusion. And given the type of offense that the Giants like to run, it is mandatory that the Giants have a reliable third target to take pressure off of Nicks and Reuben Randle.
In the event of Cruz’s absence, the Giants will need a player to step in for the wideout. Jernigan was selected with the intention of being a key contributor to the Giants’ offense, but he can expect to be a roster casualty following the 2013 season if he doesn’t make his presence known during the upcoming season.