When the Jets released Cromartie, and failed to even engage in contract discussions, he knew he had to look elsewhere but his wife made sure to let the world know he was disappointed that he wouldn’t be returning to Florham Park.
“It’s amazing how you can be so loyal to someone and they can be so disloyal to you. But you live and you learn,” Terricka Cromartie tweeted, mistakingly from Antonio’s twitter handle. “I learned today that it is possible to turn the other cheek when someone slaps you in the face.”
Cromartie, who will turn 31 in April, was coming off the worst season of his career and the Jets were clearly concerned that his hip issues might have been too much to overcome. So, they let Cromartie walk and he ended up with Todd Bowles and the Arizona Cardinals, on a one-year $3.25 million contract, where he had a very solid bounce-back year.
Part of why Cromartie didn’t want to leave the Jets in the first place was because of Rex Ryan but when Cromartie went to Arizona he found out just how much respect and admiration he also has for Bowles. Cromartie has spoken very highly of Bowles and said the Jets are lucky to have him.
“He’s one of the smartest coaches I’ve been around from a scheme standpoint,” Cromartie told Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News . “He knows how to adapt to his players. He’s a lot like Rex. They both have that open-door policy. If a player doesn’t like something, he’s willing to change things.
“You know what? He’s a really fiery guy. He wants his players to have the most fire. He wants his veteran guys to lead the way and take control of the defense.”
Clearly having Bowles as his coach would be a big draw for Cromartie but even more than that is how much Cromartie loves life in the northern New Jersey suburbs. Cromartie and his wife love the area so much they never sold their house here and would be very much open to a return.
So, could Bowles look to bring Cromartie back to the Jets?
The Jets clearly need cornerback help, both through the draft and more importantly a reliable veteran or two, and Cromartie would be able to act as a de-facto players coach to help the defense learn Bowles’ system.
Cromartie proved last year he is far from done and still has more football left. If he can stay healthy he would provide a good reliable presence at cornerback. He will still have his share of holding penalties and get beat badly every once in awhile, just like all corners, but after the revolving door the Jets went through at corner last year he could be a very real steadying presence to help Bowles get this secondary on track.
Of course the Jets will have other options in free agency such as Byron Maxwell, Kareem Jackson, Tramon Williams just to name a few of the other top options that could interest the Jets. But Cromartie’s familiarity with Bowles and love for the Jets and New Jersey could certainly make him a very intriguing option.