New York Jets: Antonio Cromartie

Cromartie: Pettine just looking for pub

June, 21, 2014
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Former New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who played under Mike Pettine from 2010 to 2012, offered his opinion on "PlaybookGate," claiming the current Cleveland Browns coach was just looking for publicity by revealing his suspicions about the New England Patriots.

Cromartie
"I think it's all wanting to make up a story, because their team is not getting talked about a lot as other teams," Cromartie, now with the Arizona Cardinals, said Thursday on the NFL Network. "I think that's what it really is."

Earth to Cromartie: The Browns have been generating headlines throughout the offseason. Ever hear of Johnny Manziel?

Cromartie, whose clashes with Pettine have been well documented, continued.

"I've been around Pettine. Pettine is that kind of person," he said. "I've been around him for my first three years in New York. I think it's, you know, something he wants to build about."

ProFootballTalk.com tracked down Pettine on his vacation in Hawaii, giving him a chance to explain the comments that started the firestorm. In case you missed it (really, how could you?), Pettine told TheMMQB.com that he suspects Bill Belichick received a copy of the Jets' playbook from Alabama coach Nick Saban, who was given the playbook by Rex Ryan on a visit to the Jets' facility.

In the interview with PFT, Pettine downplayed the benefit of having another team's playbook and said he "didn't mean to imply it was gathered illegally. ... To me, it's a sign of a smart team. We're not actively pursuing playbooks, but when they fall in your laps, you'll study it.”

Interestingly, the PFT post had no comments from Pettine about his relationship with Ryan, which figures to be more strained than ever. Pettine said his motivation for giving the anecdote to TheMMQB.com was to illustrate the importance of not putting too much information in playbooks because they can end up in the wrong hands. Whether it was intentional or not, he made Ryan -- his mentor -- look bad by saying he gives away playbooks "like candy."

Pettine's anecdote was buried near the bottom of a long profile. Moral of the story: You can't truly bury a titillating item about the Jets, the Patriots and, um, unusual information-gathering methods.

New Jets CB Patterson talking big game

June, 4, 2014
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The signing of cornerback Dimitri Patterson back in April didn't exactly set the New York Jets' fan base on fire.

Patterson
Brought in to compete for the starting job vacated by Antonio Cromartie, Patterson has started just 20 games in nine NFL seasons and played for six different teams prior to the Jets.

But the soon-to-be 31-year-old is certainly not lacking in confidence.

"I've been asked to do what Cromartie was asked to do," Patterson said Wednesday. "Do I have a high profile? No. Do I have the biggest name? No. But I've covered the same receivers, and I've held up extremely well against the same receivers, the elite guys.

"I don't have a high-profile name, but I'll put my film [up] with anybody's. That's the reality of the situation."

Jets coach Rex Ryan had Patterson working with the first unit during Wednesday's OTAs. Fellow corner Dee Milliner, who started 12 games as a rookie last year, sat out the practice with a tight left hamstring. Darrin Walls was also absent, because of a personal issue. Ras-I Dowling, who was on the practice squad last season, played opposite Patterson.

Ryan praised Patterson afterward, with the caveat that these OTAs are non-contact practices.

"It's kind of tough -- with the way the rules are, you're not allowed to press, so it's a challenge," Ryan said. "But he's done well. I think he's on top of his assignments. He's been pretty impressive."

An undrafted free agent out of Division II Tuskegee, Patterson began his NFL career with the Washington Redskins, for whom he played three games in 2005.

He didn't get his first start until 2009, with the Philadelphia Eagles, but ended up starting a career-high nine games that season and had four interceptions.

Patterson spent the past two years with the division rival Miami Dolphins but played in only eight games combined, due to ankle and groin injuries. Still, he had four interceptions last season in just six games (four starts).

"The reality is, that's the only thing they can find negative to say about me," Patterson said, speaking of his recent injuries. "When you look at my career, I've been in [the league] nine years -- the last two years I had an ankle and I had a groin. My first six, seven years, I had no injuries."

Perhaps Patterson, now healthy again, is just coming into his prime? He likes playing under Ryan, in Ryan's system, thus far.

"The requirements and what's asked of a corner here is kind of similar to what was asked of me in Miami," Patterson said. "You gotta win on the perimeter, simple as that. It's been a good adjustment. I feel like it's a good situation for me, the scheme fits me, and I'm excited about it."

The Jets' secondary will look different this year, with first-round pick Calvin Pryor possibly starting at safety, and Patterson likely replacing Cromartie at cornerback. Not exactly household names -- at least, not yet.

"Do I think we have guys to go out here and be extremely competitive? No doubt about it," Patterson said. "But we don't truly know that until you get under the lights."
John Idzik and Rex RyanAP Photo/Bill KostrounWill Jets GM John Idzik draft the starting-caliber cornerback that Rex Ryan needs?
The biggest cliché you will read or hear over the next few weeks will be from NFL experts explaining that this will be a critical draft for (insert any team name).

Hello? They're all critical because they happen only once a year.

The second-biggest cliché will be from smart-alecks like me reminding you it's a cliché.

That said, I'll probably incur a penalty flag for writing this, but there are special cases -- see the New York Jets -- where there is simply no way to minimize the importance of a particular draft.

This is one of those years for the Jets. Because of their deliberate approach in free agency -- some might say cheap -- they have raised the stakes for the upcoming draft. May 8-10 will be the three biggest days of the year for a franchise in Stage 2 of its rebuilding project.

Despite having enough salary-cap room to pay an entire small-market baseball team, general manager John Idzik chose to save most of his money, counting on a bountiful draft to fill the many holes on the Jets' roster.

You might say he's putting most of his eggs in one basket, and it happens to be a complete dozen -- 12 draft picks. He'll have yolk on the face if he blows this draft, because he passed up a lot of potential upgrades in free agency.

Many fans are restless because they are not accustomed to this way of doing business. Under Idzik's predecessor, Mike Tannenbaum, the Jets owned the New York back pages in March, titillating the fan base with sexy trades and expensive signings.

Tannenbaum knew how to feed the beast, but there was a method to his madness. His research told him they were better off spending the money on proven commodities instead of stockpiling draft choices, figuring the bust rate of draft picks -- especially in the late rounds -- didn't validate the risk-reward.

In the past six drafts under Tannenbaum, 2007 to 2012, the Jets added 31 players -- an average of roughly five per year. If Idzik keeps his full allotment of choices, which includes four compensatory selections and a pick from the Darrelle Revis trade, he'll be up to 19 picks in two drafts.

Tannenbaum's plan damn near worked, as the Jets reached back-to-back AFC Championship Games in 2009 and 2010, but the talent base eventually eroded and he was fired. Now they have the anti-Tannenbaum in Idzik, building at a glacial pace through the draft.

"The football offseason is like an event, a circus act, and fans in general want to see something," a longtime personnel executive said this week. "With John, he takes the air out of the balloon. It's not exciting, but he does it his way. You have to respect that."

Idzik's way is similar to those of the Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, three successful organizations that rely on the draft more than free agency. In Wisconsin, you're more likely to see a March thaw than a flurry of free-agent signings. The signing of Julius Peppers last month was a stunning departure from the norm, a rare walk on the wild side by GM Ted Thompson.

Their usual philosophy: Draft. Develop. Extend. In other words, use your money to re-invest in your homegrown talent.

"He's modeling those organizations," the former personnel executive said of Idzik.

Idzik has to yet to make a long-term commitment to an ascending player, although you could make the case that the Jets haven't had anyone worthy of a contract extension. That will change when defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson gets a new deal, this year or next. For now, the objective is to find more Wilkersons.

Their list of needs is long, perhaps too long, considering they began free agency with close to $40 million in cap room. They upgraded the No. 2 wide receiver spot by signing Eric Decker, and they fortified the quarterback position by adding Michael Vick. But where are the playmakers? If the Jets are counting on Decker to be a difference-maker, they misspent their guaranteed $15 million.

Defensively, the personnel is worse than it was at the end of the season, specifically at cornerback. The mistake wasn't cutting Antonio Cromartie and making no effort to re-sign him; after all, he played poorly last season. No, the mistake was failing to come up with a better replacement than the aging and injury-prone Dimitri Patterson.

Defense will drive the Jets as long as Rex Ryan is the coach, and his defensive system is driven by cornerbacks. Idzik knows that, but he obviously held back in free agency, knowing he has an XXL draft to attack the team's weaknesses.

The second-year GM and his revamped scouting department enjoyed a solid first draft, so there is hope, but the challenge is greater this year because the expectation level is higher. If you're going to be frugal in free agency, you had better own the draft.

The Jets need to come away with a starting-caliber cornerback, a potential No. 1 receiver and a pass-catching tight end. With six choices among the top 137, they have the bargaining chips to wheel and deal. Idzik has enough ammo to take control of the draft, cherry-picking the players he covets most. A Justin Gilbert-Allen Robinson-Jace Amaro troika would be a nice start.

This is a critical draft for the Jets. Sorry about the cliché, but it's the truth.
Antonio CromartieAP Photo/Alan DiazIn Antonio Cromartie, the Cardinals know that they are getting an athletic cornerback with size.
While New York Jets fans are looking for cornerbacks on every street in Manhattan, they saw an all-too-familiar sight in the desert.

By signing Antonio Cromartie on Thursday, the Arizona Cardinals solidified one of the league's top secondaries with Cromartie teaming up with Patrick Peterson -- similar to his tandem with Darrelle Revis.

ESPN.com Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss and Jets reporter Rich Cimini take a look at Cromartie's cross-country move.

Weinfuss: With just 38 tackles in 2013, was it just an off season for Cromartie or did teams stay away from him? Doesn't seem like it was a very Cromartie-esque year.

Cimini: No, it wasn't a good year for Cromartie -- and he'll be the first to admit it. He played the entire season with a strained hip flexor (that's what he called it) and it obviously hampered his ability to turn and run with receivers. He allowed a bunch of long pass plays, one of the reasons why the Jets finished 22nd in pass defense. By the end of the year, he no longer was assigned to the opponents' No. 1 receiver. That said, I give him points for gutting it out; some players would've packed it in. If the hip issue is resolved, he has the ability to recapture his 2012 form. He was terrific in 2012, probably his most consistent season. In terms of scheme fit, Cromartie is a man-to-man corner all the way. He's a scary good athlete, although he's known for losing focus. The coaches were on him a lot because he tended to get too passive in bump-and-run situations. How does he fit with the Cards?

Weinfuss: I think he'll be a great complement to Patrick Peterson if he's healthy. Those two would make up one of the toughest corner tandems in the league and could give quarterbacks fits. As it was last season, Peterson wasn't getting thrown to much. Pair him with Cromartie and Arizona's defense, which is under the watchful and creative eye of defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, will just get better. The Cardinals needed to get better against the pass and Cromartie can help them improve not only because he's athletic but also because he's tall (6-foot-2). But the question will be how he's used. He'll most likely be out wide most of the time, but will Arizona utilize his height and line him up against tight ends in the slot? Looking at Cromartie's history, he's not much of a slot corner.

Speaking of his injury, how much of an impact did it have on his attractiveness to other teams in free agency? Did the Cards get the Cromartie of old or were they duped?

Cimini: First of all, let me say this: The Jets cut him because of economics. It was the last year of his deal, and he had a $15 million cap charge, including a $5 million roster bonus. There was no chance of that happening. General manager John Idzik said they were interested in re-signing Cromartie (for less money, obviously), which tells me they weren't too concerned by the hip. However, I have to think it hurt him on the open market. Look at the facts: Questionable hip, bad season and age (he turns 30). That's not a good combo for a free agent. But like I said, if Cromartie is healthy, it'll end up being a good bargain for the Cards. He can play receiver in a pinch (handful of snaps there in 2012) and he can return kickoffs. And you're right, Josh, he's not a slot corner. He's strictly an outside guy. A few years ago, they used him a little on athletic tight ends, but I don't think Cromartie is physical enough for that assignment.

Analysis: Takeaways from Rex & Idzik

March, 20, 2014
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Thoughts and observations on the Rex Ryan/John Idzik media conference call:

1. The timing was unusual, especially since both men will be available to reporters next week at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando. The motive here was clear: It was a public-relations move, an attempt to change the narrative after days of Idzik bashing by fans and media. Just their luck; news of Antonio Cromartie's departure broke a few minutes before the call started.

[+] EnlargeAntonio Cromartie
AP Photo/Damian StrohmeyerWith Antonio Cromartie heading to Arizona, the Jets are in need of a top-flight cornerback.
2. Idzik acknowledged there was interest in re-signing Cromartie, who accepted a one-year contract from the Arizona Cardinals. Idzik: "What we said to Cro when we terminated him was we’d welcome him back. ... What we made clear to him was we weren’t closing the door on anything." This tells me that Cromartie's hip wasn't an issue for the Jets. So why didn't they re-sign him? Money? Still no word on his contract with the Cards, but I'm guessing it's about $6 million. Unless Idzik pulls a good cornerback out of his hat -- that would be a neat trick -- it looks like he misplayed the market, leaving the Jets high and dry.

3. Ryan went heavy on the praise, gushing about his current crop of cornerbacks, even mentioning Ras-I Dowling at one point. What, you're not familiar with him? He's a New England Patriots castoff who spent most of last season on the practice squad. At this point, it's posturing. The Jets have to create the perception they're happy with their depth chart because, in all likelihood, they will have to explore the trade market to find a starting-caliber corner.

4. Idzik wouldn't answer a specific question about Michael Vick, but speaking in general terms, he noted the importance of having "inside knowledge" on a player from a coach or a staff member. Obviously, he was referring to offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who coached Vick in Philadelphia. Armed with that knowledge, the Jets invited Vick for a free-agent visit, reinforcing what we knew more than a week ago: They're very interested.

5. Not surprisingly, there was no clarity on the Mark Sanchez front. It's possible that the Sanchez decision is contingent upon the Vick decision, a delicate balancing act for the front office. It has to be frustrating for Sanchez, twisting in the wind as Idzik lets this drag out all the way to the March 25 deadline for the roster bonus.

6. Idzik sidestepped questions about the lack of interest in Darrelle Revis. No surprise. Ryan made it sound like seeing Revis sign with the Patriots was no big deal. Trust me, he was sick about it.

7. It sounded like Idzik was reading from talking points, emphasizing their objective is to build for the long term. Example: "When we define winning, it’s not winning the first week of free agency, it’s not winning the draft, it’s not winning our preseason games. (Don't tell that to Ryan, who sacrificed a quarterback last summer to win the MetLife Snoopy trophy). It’s winning going forward in what we do. It’s sustainable success." Unless he's playing to play only one corner in the base defense, they'd better start doing some winning in this offseason.

Cro flies to 'Zona, what now?

March, 20, 2014
Mar 20
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Cromartie
The New York Jets' cornerback crisis became more pronounced Thursday with the news, reported by ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, that Antonio Cromartie has signed a one-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals.

What now?

The Jets cut Cromartie before free agency with the understanding that the door was open for a return, according to Cromartie. Since then, the Jets have failed to address the need. They missed out on free agents Vontae Davis and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, they showed no interest in Darrelle Revis, and they missed a chance to bring back Cromartie. It's possible the Jets were concerned by Cromartie's troublesome hip; we might never get a straight answer on that.

Right now, the Jets' starters are Dee Milliner and Darrin Walls, with Kyle Wilson in the slot. Rex Ryan has to be a bit concerned, and that's an understatement.

One name to watch: The Houston Texans are said to be shopping Johnathan Joseph, who could end up being released for cap considerations. Cornerback, once considered the strength of the Jets, is now a big problem.

What we learned on Day 4 of free agency

March, 14, 2014
Mar 14
11:50
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Another quiet day for the New York Jets, but ...

Rodgers-Cromartie
1. Is Ro-Cro on the way?: Finally remembering that it takes two cornerbacks to play defense, the Jets scheduled a visit with free agent Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a cousin of the man he could replace, Antonio Cromartie. The Jets like to keep it in the family when finding replacements in the secondary. A year ago, they signed Dawan Landry to take the spot of his younger brother, LaRon. DRC was slated to arrive Friday. He reportedly also will visit with the New York Giants. If the Jets keep missing out on corners, they might have to bring Aaron Glenn out of retirement. He's already on the payroll as a scout.

2. Patriots getting bigger, better: The New England Patriots did it again, signing their second physical, press-corner in a span of 24 hours. This time, it was Brandon Browner, who is 6-foot-4, 220 pounds. On Thursday, it was Darrelle Revis. Maybe you've heard of him. The Jets' top divisional rival is copying the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, acquiring nice-sized, man-to-man corners that can disrupt wide receivers at the line of scrimmage. The Jets added a big receiver, Eric Decker (6-3), but the knock on him is that he struggles against physical corners. Clearly, the Jets have to keep up with the Joneses -- or, in this case, the Belichicks. They need a dynamic weapon on offense to offset the Patriots' improving pass defense.

3. A tight (end) budget: Brandon Pettigrew, on the Jets' radar, ended up re-signing with the Detroit Lions -- four years, $16 million, including $8 million guaranteed. That's crazy money for a 45-catch, 450-yard tight end. The Jets were right to bail out of that situation. Coincidentally, GM John Idzik was in Lubbock, Texas, attending the Texas Tech pro day. He was there to scout pass-catching tight end Jace Amaro, who reportedly ran a 4.68 in the 40. Amaro is projected as a late first-, early-second round pick.

Source: Cromartie visits with Cardinals

March, 13, 2014
Mar 13
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Four days after being released by the New York Jets in an expected move, cornerback Antonio Cromartie could be on the verge of finding a new address. On Thursday, Cromartie is visiting with the Arizona Cardinals, according to a league source.

Cromartie
The Cards are looking for a cornerback to play opposite Patrick Peterson, and Cromartie is high on their wish list. This would be a blow to the Jets because, even though they released him, the sides agreed to leave the door open for a possible return. Cromartie acknowledged that Monday in a radio interview.

The Jets have a gaping hole at cornerback. The top corners are off the market, although they showed serious interest in only one -- Vontae Davis, who ended up re-signing with the Indianapolis Colts. They expressed no interest in a reunion with Darrelle Revis, who ended up with the New England Patriots.

Maybe Cromartie's visit to the desert will prompt the Jets to step up. They had to cut him -- he was due a $5 million roster bonus and had a $15 million cap charge -- but you never say never in the NFL.

If Revis gets cut, the Jets lose

March, 10, 2014
Mar 10
10:35
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Looks like our old friend Darrelle Revis will be moving on soon. The news broke Monday night: If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can't trade Revis and his $16 million cap charge, they will release him by 4 p.m., ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported.

That would be a bad break for the New York Jets.

Per last year's trade agreement, the Jets received a conditional fourth-round pick (2014) that becomes a third-rounder if Revis is on the Bucs' roster for the third day of the league year -- Thursday. As Schefter reports, the Bucs won't wait past 4 p.m. Wednesday because they'd owe him a $1.5 million roster bonus and because they don't want the pick to rise to a third rounder.

There's a fairly significant difference between the Bucs' third-round choice (No. 69 overall) and the fourth-round choice (No. 100). At this point, it's impossible for the Bucs to avoid embarrassment -- this was one of the worst trades in recent memory -- but I suppose a lot of egg on the face is better than a whole lot of egg, so they'll drop him before the bill gets larger.

Talk about an all-time blunder: The Bucs traded a first-round pick (2013) for what looks like a one-and-done player. No wonder they have a new front office this season.

Obvious question: If Revis gets cut, would the Jets be interested? Two things are certain: They have a gaping hole at corner after releasing Antonio Cromartie and Rex Ryan absolutely loves Revis. (At first, he wasn't in favor of trading him.) That said, after the bitter divorce and the years of acrimony between the Jets and Revis' camp, I'd say a reunion is unlikely. I also can't see Revis wanting to go back; he'll go where the money is. The Jets will spend their millions on a younger cornerback, perhaps Alterraun Verner or Vontae Davis. They could have a new starting corner before Revis hits the market.

Cromartie: Jets did not try to rework deal

March, 10, 2014
Mar 10
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From Antonio Cromartie's perspective, the surprise wasn't that he was released Sunday by the New York Jets; it's that he never got a chance to talk to the team about renegotiating his bloated contract.

Cromartie, a guest Monday on ESPN New York 98.7 FM's Stephen A. Smith & Ryan Ruocco, confirmed that the team wasn't interested in finding a way to pare down his $14.98 million cap charge. Basically, it was a cold cut. Thanks for the memories; you're fired.

"I just thought, for us, me and my agent would get an opportunity to come in and either talk about an extension to get the cap number down or try to restructure," the veteran cornerback said. "But, right now, we didn't hear anything from them."

The most realistic option was a straight pay cut. He was entering the final year of his contract, due to make $9.5 million in salary and bonuses, including a $5 million roster bonus this week. It made no sense for the Jets to extend the deal -- not for a soon-to-be 30-year-old corner with a bum hip -- unless it was just a window-dressing extension for cap purposes. But they never got around to talking numbers.

Cromartie said he would like to finish his career with the Jets and didn't rule out the possibility of re-signing for less money.

"Just talking with the guys [Sunday], the door is still open and that's how I look at it," he said, adding, "I'm going to test the market to see where my numbers are."

Hampered by a strained hip flexor, Cromartie struggled last season. After two months of rest, he claimed he is healthy, predicting, "You're going to see the Antonio Cromartie of old" in 2014. He wants to play eight more years, five at corner, three at safety.

Cromartie took the high road, refusing to bash the Jets. Why bite the hand he hopes will feed him again? He praised coach Rex Ryan and the entire roster, saving his most effusive comments for safety Antonio Allen. He said Allen has "freakish" athletic ability and, if he becomes a consistent player, could be "the next Ed Reed." Allen is an ascending player, no doubt, but that's way over the top.

Jets' not-so-old gang is dwindling

March, 10, 2014
Mar 10
10:15
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You've heard this a thousand times: The NFL stands for Not For Long, and that theory certainly applies to the 2010 New York Jets.

With Antonio Cromartie's release Sunday, only 11 players remain from the team that lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game (we're including free agents). That total is sure to shrink in the coming days. By the time we reach Week 1, it could be only seven holdovers.

A look at the Gang of 11:

Not going anywhere:

D'Brickashaw Ferguson, left tackle

Nick Mangold, center

David Harris, linebacker

Jeff Cumberland, tight end

Nick Folk, kicker (franchise tag)

Tanner Purdum, long snapper

Kyle Wilson, cornerback

Free agents:

Calvin Pace, linebacker

Vladimir Ducasse, guard/tackle

Likely cap casualties:

Mark Sanchez, quarterback

Santonio Holmes, wide receiver

Analysis: Don't expect Cro to fly back

March, 9, 2014
Mar 9
4:15
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A few takeaways on the New York Jets' decision to release cornerback Antonio Cromartie:

1. Is this really goodbye? There is the possibility of re-signing Cromartie down the road, according to a source, but I don't see that happening. I think Cromartie is done in New York. Unless he's willing to return on a modest, one-year contract, what sense does it make to commit to a 30-year-old cornerback with a chronic hip condition? Cromartie was terrible last season despite making the Pro Bowl as an alternate. (What a sham that was.) I give him major props for playing through the injury, but he was a liability at times. If he were a few years younger, yeah, you would bring him back, figuring the hip would heal. But he'll be 30 next month, and the combination of age and injury makes this a no-brainer. Cromartie relies on speed, not technique. If his speed is compromised, he's not the same player.

[+] EnlargeAntonio Cromartie
AP Photo/Damian StrohmeyerWith Antonio Cromartie heading to Arizona, the Jets are in need of a top-flight cornerback.
2. Possible replacements: The Jets might try to sell us on Kyle Wilson as a possible replacement, but don't buy that for a second. Right now, they have only one starting-caliber cornerback on the roster -- Dee Milliner. With about $30 million in cap room, which will grow to $38 million as soon as they cut Santonio Holmes (which will happen any minute now), the Jets have plenty of flexibility to sign a top-tier free agent. On Saturday, they inquired about Alterraun Verner of the Tennessee Titans. He and the New England Patriots' Aqib Talib will be the best cornerbacks on the market, assuming they don't re-sign before Tuesday. I think the Jets should make a push for Verner, only 25, coming off his first Pro Bowl. He could cost $10 million a year, but you would rather go long term with a player entering his prime than re-up with a banged-up player at the beginning of his downside.

3. It had to be done: Cromartie told teammates at the end of the season that he expected to be a cap casualty, and he later articulated that view in a TV interview. When Cromartie restructured his contract last year, he pushed money into 2014, resulting in a bloated cap figure of $14.98 million. That included a prohibitive $5 million roster bonus, due this week. Obviously, there was no chance he'd remain on the team at those numbers. By cutting Cromartie, the Jets will have a $9.5 million cap savings. Now Cromartie can test his value on the open market, hoping to convince teams he's healthy and still explosive. A young and healthy Cromartie was always the best athlete on the field.

4. Dynamic duo ... gone: In 2010 and 2011, the Jets had one of the premier cornerback tandems in the league, Cromartie and Darrelle Revis, who missed most of the 2012 season with a knee injury. In a span of 11 months, general manager John Idzik broke up the two-man band, trading Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and cutting Cromartie. He had better hope Milliner is the real deal, or else the defense is in big trouble.

5. As the Cro flies: Favorite Cromartie memory? That's easy. It was his 47-yard kickoff return in the 2010 wild-card game against the Indianapolis Colts. Basically, he won the game, putting Mark Sanchez & Co. in great field position and setting up Nick Folk's game-winning field goal as time expired. Cromartie wanted the ball in that spot, and the coaches gave it to him, knowing he could break a long one. He was capable of greatness, but too often he aggravated the coaches with his mental lapses. There was "good Cro and bad Cro," as former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine once said.

Jets re-sign cornerbacks Lankster, Walls

March, 5, 2014
Mar 5
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Addressing cornerback depth before the start of free agency, the New York Jets re-signed backups Ellis Lankster and Darrin Walls, the team announced Wednesday night. Lankster was slated to become an unrestricted free agent, Walls a restricted free agent.

Lankster
Walls
The moves came on the same day in which they acquired cornerback Johnny Patrick on waivers from the San Diego Chargers. It means they have six experienced corners under contract, although the future of the No. 1 corner -- Antonio Cromartie -- remains cloudy because of a $15 million cap charge.

Lankster is an underrated signing. In fact, he was ranked No. 6 on our list of the team's 16 unrestricted free agents. He didn't play much cornerback last season (only 29 snaps), but he was a core special teamer, finishing second on the team with 20 tackles. The Jets were concerned that he'd draw interest on the open market, so they made a preemptive strike.

Walls is coming off a weird year. He played a fair amount of football (three starts and a total of 289 snaps), starting opposite Cromartie whenever rookie Dee Milliner was in the doghouse. But when Milliner was in the lineup, Walls was the forgotten man. The Jets rarely used more than three corners in any package, so it turned into an all-or-nothing situation for Walls, who finished with no interceptions and four pass breakups.

Rex Ryan has plenty of bodies at corner, but he'll have a gaping hole if they cut Cromartie. Aside from Milliner, none of the others are starting-caliber players.

New York Jets have money to burn

February, 20, 2014
Feb 20
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Turns out the New York Jets will have even more salary-cap room than expected.

The NFL is expected to raise the salary cap to about $130 million, ESPN Insider Adam Schefter reported Thursday -- about $4 million higher than projected. The cap was $123 million last year.

Nothing is official yet, but it looks like the additional $4 million will give the Jets about $24 million in cap space. That would be enough to re-sign potential free agents (right tackle Austin Howard, kicker Nick Folk and tight end Jeff Cumberland are the top priorities) and be active in the free-agent market.

Obviously, they will gain more flexibility when they start dumping veterans. They would create an additional $26 million by releasing Santonio Holmes, Mark Sanchez and Antonio Cromartie.

The Jets are being applauded in some circles for having only $48,958 in "dead" money on this year's cap, one of the lowest totals in the league, but that figure is deceiving. If they cut the aforementioned three veterans, they'd get hit with $12.8 million in dead money, barring June 1 designations.

New York Jets cap breakdown: Defense

February, 14, 2014
Feb 14
4:00
PM ET
A breakdown of the New York Jets' salary cap, position by position on defense:

Cornerback

Total cap charge: $20.8 million

Percentage of total cap: 16.0

Players under contract: 6

Highest cap charge: Antonio Cromartie, $14.98 million

Our take: The Jets won't have Cromartie at that number. He'll either take a pay cut or get cut, perhaps re-signing later at a lower number. ... Imagine what the overall number would look like if Darrelle Revis were still on the roster.

Linebacker

Total cap charge: $12.16 million

Percentage of total cap: 9.4

Players under contract: 6

Highest cap charge: David Harris, $7.0 million

Our take: Only three starters are under contract, which means the total will grow when they re-sign Calvin Pace or a veteran replacement. ... The front office finally got this position under control after years of bloated cap numbers.

Defensive line:

Total cap charge: $7.41

Percentage of total cap: 5.7

Players under contract: 7

Highest cap charge: Sheldon Richardson, $2.29 million

Our take: They're all young pups, but one of these days -- 2015 or 2016 -- this will be the high-rent district on the team. Maybe it will start this year if Muhammad Wilkerson gets a long-term extension.

Safety:

Total cap charge: $3.56 million

Percentage of total cap: 2.7

Players under contract: 6

Highest cap charge: Dawan Landry, $1.83 million

Our take: Welcome to the discount aisle. The Jets take the thrifty approach when it comes to building the safety position.

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