NFL Rumors: New York Jets Planning on Using Cornerback Antonio Cromartie at Wide Receiver?

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The New York Jets are entering the 2012 season with some uncertainty at the wide receiver position.

I’ve broken down the depth chart as currently constituted. 28-year-old Santonio Holmes is far and away the most experienced wideout, entering his seventh NFL season.

Holmes is the undisputed number 1 WR. Everything after that is anyone’s guess. All of the other receivers in camp combined have a total of 111 career receptions, including 72 from Chaz Schilens and 29 from Jeremy Kerley.

So is Jets coach Rex Ryan planning on thinking outside the box when it comes to his wide receiver depth?

Perhaps so.

Said the svelte Ryan at his Friday press conference, keep your eyes peeled in case you see starting cornerback Antonio Cromartie sneaking his way into the offensive huddle every now and then.

“You have 53 guys on your roster and 45 are active … some games there has to be some crossover,” he said. “Don’t be surprised if Cromartie plays some receiver, that’s something we talked about. [It’ll make opposing defenses] have to be ready for those type of things.”

It’s not often that NFL rumors come straight from the horse’s mouth, but with Rex Ryan you never know exactly how serious he is when he says things like this.

Ryan likes to have fun with the media, but is it really possible that the Jets would use a Pro Bowl-caliber cornerback as a two-way player to mix things up in the passing game?

While there’s a ton of reasons why they should not and would not do it, there’s actually some precedence for Cromartie seeing snaps on other sides of the ball besides defense.

Cromartie saw time as a kick returner at times over the last few seasons, with 37 career kick returns in his six NFL seasons and 9 more in the postseason. He returned 17 kicks last year, with an impressive 24.5 yards per return.

He also famously set the record for the longest play in NFL history back in 2007 with the San Diego Chargers, when he returned a missed field goal 109 yards for a touchdown.

But special teams is one thing. Playing wide receiver is an entirely different animal. Yet, it’s not something Cromartie’s completely unfamiliar with.

Last season, the Jets lined up Cromartie at wide receiver on five total snaps over the course of the year. Most times he was a decoy, sometimes even streaking down the field on vertical routes with his 4.4 speed.

He only officially touched the ball once last year, carrying the ball on the play pictured above for a 1-yard gain. But it’s clear that he’s practiced on offense before, and maybe the Jets aren’t bluffing.

Of course, for Ryan to talk about it publicly is a bit of gamesmanship. If the Jets were seriously considering making the 28-year-old Cromartie a true two-way player, they’d probably be keeping it under wraps.

No one knows if we’ll ever see Cromartie make an impact play on offense, nor if the Jets would ever need him to. But that doesn’t mean other teams shouldn’t think about it, which I’m sure was Ryan’s goal in the first place.


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