The New York Jets raised a lot of eyebrows this week with the signing of cornerback Dimitri Patterson. CB is, without a doubt, a position of need for the Jets, but Patterson is a journeyman who has struggled with injuries his entire career. The fact that the Jets were willing to give him a $3 million one-year deal in 2014, yet were unwilling to match the $3.5 million offered to Antonio Cromartie by the Arizona Cardinals, makes the move all the more puzzling.
The Jets cut Cromartie earlier this year in order to avoid the ridiculous $15 million cap hit he would have cost the team in 2014. This move was a no-brainer, as even Cromartie himself said he expected to be a salary cap casualty this offseason.
All indications suggested, however, that there was a good chance he’d be back in New York in 2014 at a reduced rate. Coach Rex Ryan said he wanted the Pro Bowl corner to return next year, and Cromartie expressed a desire to remain a Jet for his entire career. Yet they let him walk after the Cards offered him a one-year contract for $3.5 million. So what happened?
Cromartie had a poor season in 2013, struggling in coverage as he battled a hip injury for most of the year, so the simplest explanation is that perhaps GM John Idzik believes his best days are behind him. But given that the Jets had already swung and missed on some of the bigger names in free agency, re-signing Cromartie made a great deal of sense.
Even at 30 years old, Cromartie is still a big, strong athletic corner who excels in press coverage, a perfect fit for Ryan’s defensive scheme. Patterson is on the smaller side and is better suited as a nickel corner, a position the Jets already have accounted for with fifth-year man Kyle Wilson, who has quietly become one of the better nickelbacks in the league.
What exactly does Idzik think he is going to get next year from Patterson at $3 million that he couldn’t get from Cromartie at $3.5 million? Cromartie is but one year removed from his best season in 2012, when he stepped up to replace the injured Darrelle Revis as the team’s No. 1 corner. Cromartie was dominant and played at an All-Pro level. Why not consider the additional $500,000 a gamble that his down year in 2013 was a result of his injured hip?
If Cromartie is able to return to form in 2014, that $3.5 million becomes a bargain. Coupled with the fact that Patterson has only played 16 games in a season once in his eight years in the league, it’s hard to find the GM’s angle here.
It’s difficult to make sense of this move either looking at the dollars cents or from a personnel perspective. Overall, it’s hard not to like what Idzik has done so far this offseason, getting the most bang for his buck in a weak free agent class, but in regards to this move, Mr. Idzik — you blew it.
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