The move hardly was a surprise, as Cromartie, coming off a mediocre season, was due to make $8 million in base salary in the second year of a four-year, $32 million contract. His 2016 salary wasn't guaranteed, allowing the Jets to save the full $8 million on their salary cap.
"I would like to [thank] the Jets organization for bringing me back this past season," Cromartie wrote on Instagram. "I had a lot of fun and I know my first [half] of the season didn't go well and I thank you guys for pushing and believing in me to keep me on the field so I could finish strong. Today is a sad day for me not because of my release but the guys I became really close [to] in our DB room."
Cromartie was one of the key pieces in the Jets' spending spree last offseason, which also included the return of fellow corner Darrelle Revis. Together, Cromartie and Revis billed themselves as Batman and Robin, but the once-dynamic duo wasn't as formidable as they were in their first stint with the Jets (2010 to 2012).
Cromartie struggled in 2015, allowing a team-high seven touchdown passes, according to Pro Football Focus. He acknowledged at midseason that he wasn't playing up to his standard. He played well down the stretch, but his high salary -- coupled with the team's cap issues -- made his release a done deal.
The Jets, projected to be about $13 million under a $155 million salary cap, needed to create room to use the franchise tag for defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson. That move is expected in the coming days.
In 15 games, Cromartie failed to record a single interception for the first time since his rookie season with the San Diego Chargers, in 2006. He made 26 solo tackles and had one fumble recovery. He also was the Jets' leading kickoff returner, averaging 25.1 yards per return.
As for a replacement, the Jets have a few options on the roster -- nickelback Buster Skrine, backup Marcus Williams (six interceptions last season) and perhaps even former first-round pick Dee Milliner.
In 10 seasons, Cromartie has 31 interceptions. He has appeared in four Pro Bowls, most recently in 2014.