Dwayne Smith. 7th March, 2010 - 10:27 pm
The New York Jets introduced their first addition to what was already the best passing defense in the NFL in cornerback Antonio Cromartie. The deal that nabbed Cromartie from the San Diego Chargers is reported to be for a third round pick that could become a second round pick depending on player performance and team success. The move brings a talented former Pro Bowl DB, to pair with arguably the best shutdown cornerback in the NFL, Darelle Revis.
That was the good news, the bad is that since his Pro Bowl season of 2007, Cromartie has been injured and earned a reputation as a defender who would rather not be confrontational enough to hit somebody. Most famously, Cromartie backed off on a tackle that could have stopped new teammate running back Shonn Greene for a short gain. Instead, Greene made a 53 yard run that gave New York breathing room in their hard fought 17-14 playoff upset over the Chargers.
There is no question that the combination of raw speed and man cover skills make him a special talent. What is in question are his decision making skills on and off the field. Besides the noted lack of desire when it comes to tackling, Cromartie has seven children that reside in five states with none of them being raised by a mother who has a relationship with Cromartie. This situation was created by what he called, ?some wrong decisions my first two years in the NFL.? While the newest addition has shown every indication of living up to his duties as a father as well as he can, regular contact with his children using ?iChat and Skype,? it still shows that he did have a period in his life that exemplified a lack of personal discipline.
General Manager Mike Tannenbaum acknowledges the risk and also recognizes that it was that threat that gave the Jets the opportunity to make this trade happen. The deal?s origins came last weekend in Indianapolis at the NFL Scouting Combine when the Jets started kicking ideas around with Chargers Head Coach Norv Turner and GM AJ Smith. Those discussions continued this week and culminated in the trade. Tannenbaum?s hope is the risk will pay off by getting a hungry player, with something to prove in his contract year that will do anything to show the NFL that he is everything his talent will allow.
As for his new Head Coach Rex Ryan there is nothing but sheer excitement at the prospect of pairing two Pro Bowl talents at each corner. As the person who gets the groceries, Tannenbaum admitted ?Rex loves corners? and never feels like you can have enough depth at that position. In fact the GM said they probably aren?t finished acquiring defensive backs.
After being told of the trade, Ryan issued a statement that explains his excitement, ?He?s got great man cover skills that are unusual. It?s rare to see a corner with his ball skills. He?s a difference maker. There?s an old saying when you evaluate corners ? ?Can they find it? Can they catch it?? ? and he can do all that. He?s got long arms where he can press you at the line of scrimmage. He?ll fit perfectly into our system. Now, we don?t necessarily have to always put Revis on the toughest guy. We can switch it up. This pair gives us even more options on defense. We should be able to disguise what we?re doing a little better than we?ve done in the past. He?s going to be a huge, huge addition for us because what he?s going to bring to the table from a physical standpoint is going to be tremendous. He?s got some unbelievable gifts and we?re just fortunate to have him on our team. When you combine him with the players that we already have, we?re going to be really tough on defense.?
If the coach is right, Cromartie will be well worth whatever perceived baggage comes with him. There is no question that the potential of a Revis-Cromartie tandem makes the Jets defense even more fearsome. However, if the gamble by New York fails, then the Chargers made a brilliant move to cut ties with a talented player who allowed himself to lose focus and in a contract year any chance of a big money deal.