Cromartie Questions

The trade of Antonio Cromartie to the New York Jets has left Bolts Backers with unanswered questions. Why send Cromartie to a conference rival? Why settle for a 2011 draft pick? And won't the Chargers have to spend a high pick to replace the guy? We tackle these questions and more.

Why Trade Cromartie in the Conference?

Bolts Backers are wary of the fact that A.J. Smith traded Antonio Cromartie to a conference rival, one that has bounced the Chargers from the playoffs in two of the last six seasons. However, Smith was not overly concerned about getting Cromartie out of the conference.

While Cromartie's off-the-field antics hastened his departure, the team was most displeased with his play on the field. Cromartie is a poor tackler; he shows spotty focus; and he freelances too often, leaving his safeties hanging out to dry. Should the Chargers face the Jets again next season, Norv Turner will not be shy about attacking Cromartie's side of the field.

Why Not Get Something that Can Help in 2010?

The only way this trade helps the Chargers in 2010 is via addition by subtraction, as San Diego will not be compensated with a draft pick till 2011. However, that was the only way Smith could get what he wanted for Cromartie: a second-round pick.

The third-round pick in this deal will be escalated to a second-rounder if Cromartie signs a long-term deal; or reaches playing-time benchmarks; or the Jets win the AFC East. It is likely at least one of those scenarios will come to pass, which would give the Chargers a pair of second-round picks in 2011.

This could also allow Smith to use San Diego's 2011 second-round pick as a trading chip in this year's draft. In two of the last three drafts, Smith has traded away the following year's second-round pick in order to move up the board. He did it in 2007 for Eric Weddle and in 2008 for Jacob Hester.

Does San Diego Have to Spend Another First-Round Pick on a CB?

In the last eight years, the Chargers have spent four first-round picks on cornerbacks. Fans are concerned A.J. Smith may look to go 5-for-9, but that seems unlikely at this point. The Chargers will hand Cromartie's starting spot to 2008 first-round selection Antoine Cason. San Diego also has 2009 fifth-round pick Brandon Hughes, who missed last season with a knee injury, as well as Dante Hughes. DBs Steve Gregory and Paul Oliver can play safety or cornerback.

The Chargers will draft a cornerback at some point in this year's draft, but it will likely happen no higher than Round 3. The team's most pressing needs are at running back, where veterans LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Bennett were released, and nose tackle, where Jamal Williams was let go.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.

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