The Jets were able to free up $8 million in cap space by cutting Antonio Cromartie but that was just step one. Now the have to decide how to replace him in the starting lineup. They could certainly decide to bring Cromartie back for far less money but based on Todd Bowles' breakdown of the decision to release him it sure sounds like Cromartie wouldn't get the starting spot handed to him.
"Well, we looked at the tape. After we looked at the tape, he didn't have the greatest year, but he played with a lot of injuries to his credit," Bowles said. "Cromartie is one of the finest players I've coached. It was a hard decision, but we need to upgrade a little bit at that position and that was why we made the decision."
You never want to read too much into a coach's quote but that sure sounds like while Bowles respects Cromartie and his talent a great deal and he would be interested in bringing him back for cheaper you don't talk about needing to "upgrade" that position just to bring the guy back for less money and give him the starting job back.
"No, there's a chance he could come back," Bowles said when asked if they have fully moved on from Cromartie. "We'll see how it goes down the line, but there's a chance."
But cheaper contract or not it's still rather obvious that one of the reasons the Jets flat out cut Cromartie is because they feel they have an upgrade already on their roster in Marcus Williams. Of course Bowles won't just come out and say that at this point, so instead he broke out the "open competition," mantra.
"It's open right now. Obviously, you've got Buster (Skrine), you've got Dee (Milliner), you've got Marcus," Bowles said. "We've got a couple of guys there who can play. It's an open competition and we'll see who wins out."
The thing is while Bowles can technically go the open competition route the rest of us know better. Sure you could make a case for Skrine deserving a shot but he's so good in the slot as the nickel corner sliding him to the outside for every play would just open up a hole at the nickel spot.
"It won't be difficult if he plays inside and outside," Bowles said. "He's done it when Cromartie got hurt and he's done it in Cleveland. I'm fine with playing him inside or outside.
Obviously they'd like Milliner to come in and compete but with his inability to stay healthy no one can realistically expect he'll stay healthy long enough to earn that spot and then there's Williams who all he did was find the ball every time he was on the field last year. But Bowles Spain stressed Milliner is, "in the competition for the starting spot. The spot's open."
It'll be an open competition for that second outside cornerback spot but Williams should easily win that job is he stays healthy and doesn't suddenly forget how to play cornerback.
Chris Nimbley is the Editor-in-Chief of JetsInsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@cnimbley), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)