Mike Lombardi of the NFL Network reported last night the New York Jets are planning to not resign cornerback Antonio Cromartie and will instead focus on bringing back both Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards. This report hasn’t been contradicted strongly by any of the beat writers, with ESPN’s Rich Cimini saying by reading the “tea leaves” of Mike Tannenbaum’s end of the year press conference, it makes sense. Manish Mehta of the Daily News said a decision hasn’t been reached yet/ Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post wrote today Cromartie returning is still an option but the Jets will focus on getting their three wide receivers back first.
Personally, I would think Santonio Holmes would be the top priority now after taking care of David Harris with the franchise tag. After him, Cromartie should be the next priority and I still have a hard time believing the Jets are going to focus on Braylon Edwards or Brad Smith before him.
Nobody is saying Braylon Edwards wasn’t very good for the Jets last year and that Smith isn’t a valuable weapon. However, it isn’t a question of those players. It is a question of who is going to have an increased role if they leave via free agency.
The Jets can survive on offense without Edwards and Smith. Jerricho Cotchery is capable of being a starting receiver and Dustin Keller can be very productive with an enhanced role, as we saw last year before Santonio Holmes returned from suspension. Smith is a nice gadget player, who the Jets should still be able to bring back with Cromartie if Edwards leaves but either way their offense can survive without him and yes, so could their special teams.
If Cromartie leaves, are the Jets really prepared to hand the starting cornerback job to Kyle Wilson? Did he do anything last year to make you believe he can handle that role? Rex Ryan has consistently and profusely expressed his love for cornerbacks and considering the Jets aggressive man to man scheme, I can’t see them putting Wilson and Drew Coleman opposite Darrelle Revis and hoping for the best.
The decision to bring Edwards and Smith back before worrying about Cromartie or potentially letting him walk would signal a shift in the Jets philosophy. It would indicate they are embracing a more offensive approach and that they are going to rely more on their passing attack in 2011. If you are going to spend that type of money at receiver, it means you are expecting Mark Sanchez to be able to lead a more wide open, aggressive offense. I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing because look at the last two Super Bowl champions and how they won. However, the Jets defense is going to suffer. They still lack a pass rush to compensate for weaknesses at the number two and three corner spot.
I will believe a Rex Ryan led team bringing back three receivers before one cornerback, when I see it.