Could Cro fly to safety?

March, 19, 2012
3/19/12
10:03
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Antonio Cromartie went from cornerback to recruiter during the brief, ill-fated Reggie Nelson courtship, using twitter to lobby the free-agent safety to sign with the Jets. When the news broke that Nelson had re-signed with the Bengals, clearly his first choice all along, Cromartie raised an interesting topic.

"I guess I'm moving to FS," he tweeted, meaning free safety.

A short time later, he tweeted again, "The reason I say I'm moving to FS is because Kyle [Wilson] is becoming a good corner and I don't mind the move."

Hmm, let's think about that for a moment: Cromartie, a safety?

I don't see it.

Sure, he looks the part at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds. Sure, he has the athleticism to cover a lot of ground. But let's look at it logically:

Cromartie's strength is man-to-man coverage -- the down-after-down challenge keeps him focused -- and you'd lose that at safety. Put him at safety, and he'd be in read-and-react mode; he's better when relying on instincts and athleticism.

With his size, long arms and strength, he has a rare skill set at corner. At safety, he'd be just another guy. He's also accustomed to playing with his back to the quarterback; it's an entirely different deal at safety.

Plus, we all know he's not the best tackler, a must at safety.

Bottom line: With Cromartie and Darrelle Revis, the Jets have one of the top cornerback tandems. Why break that up? In the Rex Ryan scheme, predicated on man-to-man, corners are more important than safeties. Finally, Cromartie is making $8 million a year. That's cornerback money, not safety money.

It's an admirable gesture by Cromartie, offering to make the switch (if he was serious), but the Jets should be able to come up with a competent safety. Anybody got Victor Green's number?

WR TO VISIT: The Jets have set up a visit with former Titans and Rams WR Donnie Avery, according to Scout.com. He has 103 catches for 1,308 yards and nine touchdowns in four seasons, nearly all of it coming in his first two. Avery missed 2010 with a knee injury and had only three catches last season for the Titans.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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