Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Updated: July 22, 8:50 AM ET
Antonio Cromartie not into discounts
By Rich Cimini
New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, perhaps only days away from becoming an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career, sounded Tuesday like he's eager for a bidding war.
Cromartie said he doesn't believe in "hometown discounts," and that he won't re-sign with the Jets during their exclusive negotiating period. He made it clear that he intends to hit the open market.
"I'm not giving anybody a hometown discount," Cromartie said during an interview with Sirius XM Radio. "I'm definitely going to see what the organization says and also let them know I want to go out and test the market and see where my value is."
Under the reported terms of the proposed collective bargaining agreement, which could be ratified by players and owners by Thursday, teams will have a three-day window to re-sign their own free agents. That will be a critical time for the Jets, who have a number of high-profile free agents in addition to Cromartie -- namely wide receivers Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith.
Cromartie said he has researched potential suitors, mentioning the Houston Texans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders as teams that will be looking for a No. 1 cornerback.
There has been endless speculation on how the Jets will prioritize their free agents. Cromartie said he believes he should be the team's No. 1 or No. 2 priority, mentioning Holmes as the other.
Interestingly, Cromartie believes Holmes should be ahead of Edwards in the team's pecking order, claiming Holmes is a better fit in the system and a better match with quarterback Mark Sanchez.
Cromartie said he "would love the opportunity" to remain with the Jets, but he didn't sound too sentimental. Of course, it could be posturing. He said he'd like to sign no later than three days into the free agency period. After the Raiders' Nnamdi Asomugha, the consensus No. 1 corner on the market, Cromartie figures to be one of the most coveted players at the position.
The Jets traded a second-round pick last year for Cromartie, who fell out of favor with the San Diego Chargers. For the most part, he played well last season, tying for the team lead with three interceptions. But he also led the team in penalties and allowed a team-high seven touchdown passes.
If the Jets lose Cromartie, they could hand the job to Kyle Wilson, last year's No. 1 pick, or sign a proven veteran.
Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com.