The New York Jets made the expected release of cornerback Antonio Cromartie yesterday, saving themselves $9.5 million in cap space. Cromartie is coming off what he called the worst season of his career, and the Jets had no choice but to make this move. There have long been rumors that the Jets would release Cromartie and attempt to re-sign him at a lower price, but that would be a mistake.
Cromartie turns 30 next month and has chronic hip problems, which is probably the worst injury a cornerback can have. Given how badly his place declined this season, his age, and his injury issues, and there is no reason to think that he will rebound to his former Pro Bowl level (yes I know he made the Pro Bowl this season but that was an absolute joke).
The Jets have about $30 million in cap space, and that number is going to get bigger with the inevitable releases of Santonio Holmes and Mark Sanchez. That means the Jets have enough money to target a free agent corner, whether that be Aqib Talib, Alterraun Verner, Walter Thurmond or someone else. The Jets reportedly reached out to Verner, and it will be interesting to see how strongly they pursue him when free agency opens tomorrow. Any of those three players would be a big upgrade over Cromartie.
Cromartie is one of Rex Ryan’s guys, and any Jets fan will tell you that Ryan has a maddening tendency to stick with under performing players out of loyalty. However, John Idzik can’t allow Ryan to make a push to bring Cromartie back. With a solid group of free agents and a very deep draft at the position, it is time the Jets go in another direction. Cromartie was very valuable to the Jets over the last few seasons, but the NFL is a business, and the Jets need to make the tough decision of letting him stay on the market and finding a replacement.