Earlier this afternoon, the New York Jets announced that they have released their No. 1 cornerback Antonio Cromartie. He was hoping for a bounce back season with the club in the last year of his four-year, $32 million deal with the Jets.
The 29-year-old Cromartie did have a dreadful year last season and was burned on many plays deep for touchdowns, but he also played through a very stiff chronic hip injury. So a drop in play for Cromartie was definitely expected — just not to the extent the Jets had previously thought.
Nevertheless, this move saves the Jets $9.5 million towards the salary cap as the team looks to add pieces to help get them over the .500 hump next season.
With the decision by the Jets to release Cromartie, does this mean head coach Rex Ryan and the rest of the coaching staff are going to show some tremendous faith in Dee Milliner, who struggled mightily throughout his rookie season but showed promise in the team’s final few games?
Obviously the Jets are planning to sign one unrestricted free agent cornerback to fill in the open roster spot left by Cromartie, but would this mean Milliner will get a permanent starting job from this point forward?
Not so fast.
In my opinion, I believe the Jets want Milliner to keep gaining confidence in himself and not give him too much responsibility too fast only going into his sophomore season.
This is why the Jets will sign not one, but two free agent cornerbacks this offseason. The Jets have already expressed interest in free agent cornerbacks Captain Munnerlyn, previously of the Carolina Panthers, and Alterraun Verner, previously of the Tennessee Titans.
Another option, which would not surprise me in the least bit, is that the Jets will sign one of the two, Munnerlyn or Verner, and then re-sign Cromartie, who they just released, but only at a lower price.
If Milliner pans out then he will be the future No. 1 cornerback for the Jets in no time. But for this upcoming season, look for him to be the third corner as he tries to build more confidence in himself and continues to adapt to the NFL in a less pressure filled role.