Antonio Cromartie became the first high profile roster cut of the New York Jets 2016 off season, a move which was not entirely unexpected. To avoid another $8 million hit on the salary cap, Maccagnan had to do something with Cro and so the reunion experiment is over. Despite a performance in 2015 which didn’t live up to expectations, fans still hold a certain fondness for number 31, pouring out thanks on social media following the news that he is no longer a Jet.
When Mike Maccagnan signed Cromartie back to the Jets following his one season in Arizona, there was a degree of concern over the size of his 4 year $32 million contract. Bringing back Cromartie, who had performed so well in the past for the Jets and worked with Coach Bowles at the Cardinals, worked in theory, in fact he was coming off his second best year in 2014. However, his performance in 2015 did not match expectations or his huge price tag. Indeed, we watched Cro get burned on a several occasions by young receivers he just couldn’t keep up with. In his own statement after being cut, he acknowledged that, especially in the first half of the season, he didn’t play well. Pro Football Focus ranked him 108 out of 118 corner backs in the league and he didn’t manage one interception. 2015 was his least productive year since he was a rookie with the Chargers in 2006.
Ironically, Maccagnan is now getting a fair amount of praise for ensuring the four year contract was essentially only a one year one, as he provided himself a get out clause for his arguably most ill-judged move last year.
Although 2015 certainly blots Cromartie’s Jets’ copy book, we shouldn’t overlook the contributions he made during his first stint with Gang Green between 2010 – 2014. He racked up multiple interceptions and tackles and was an important part of the teams which made the 2010 AFC Championship game. He was at the height of his athleticism during this time and had his best statistical year in 2011. Playing across from Revis Island, he helped ensure that Rex Ryan’s secondary was difficult to assail. Cro also shot to wider recognition after the famed Hard Knocks clip where he couldn’t remember the names of all his children (several of which were aged 3 at the time) and continues to raise eyebrows with his impressive virility. He also clearly was a leader in the DB room, paying to the group in an Instagram post after he was cut.
Will he be back? It is possible that Cromartie could be re-signed at a lower cost, however a number of factors suggest the contrary. For a start, the Jets are well set up at the corner back position. Revis is probably in decline but is still an elite back for the next year at least. Buster Skrine and Marcus Williams also performed well in 2015 and Williams will be looking to pick up the other CB berth at a much cheaper price.
As if to cement the fact he is probably not coming back, Cromartie’s own statement seemed rather final, as if he knows he has played his last in green and white:
“Keep the excitement in the stands because Coach Bowles will have the guys right this coming season.”
All indicators suggest that Cro will not be returning to the Jets but a disappointing 2015 shouldn’t cloud memories of a player who has also contributed much to the franchise.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com