JERSEY CITY -- The jury is still out on whether or not Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was serious when he said Monday that he may retire if Denver wins it all. It is far more clear that he was not joking about how miserable he was in Philadelphia -- and how much better his NFL career is for landing with the Broncos.
The 27-year-old Rodgers-Cromartie, who is on the verge of hitting free agency off an impressive season, told reporters aboard (yes, aboard) the Cornucopia Majesty cruise ship that he has discussed his future with his Broncos teammates.
"Coming out of college I gave myself a five-year goal. If I could just make it five years, I would be all right," he said. "Coming from a small school and of course playing six [seasons], it has been a long journey and I am weighing my options. I am still a young guy and not a Champ Bailey or Peyton Manning who have a legacy of going out on top. I had a goal of five years and I reached that.
"I will see how I feel after the game.”
Rodgers-Cromartie spent two of those six NFL seasons (2011 and '12) in Philadelphia after being traded by the Cardinals for QB Kevin Kolb. The move was supposed to combine Rodgers-Cromartie with Asante Samuel and Nnamdi Asomugha in one of the league's most feared secondaries.
Instead, the unit bombed. Last season, the Eagles allowed more passing touchdowns than any other NFL defense.
"In Philly, when it was bad, it was bad from an overall standpoint," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "You had your highs and lows but there wasn’t one guy who could have turned it around. It was just a bad time. I don’t think about it much because I am over it."
Landing with the Broncos no doubt helped the healing process. Last offseason, Rodgers-Cromartie signed a relatively cheap two-year, $10 million contract -- the 2014 season and $5 million of which voids if Rodgers-Cromartie is still on the Denver roster as of next Friday. The Broncos may wish that 2014 season were set in stone instead, after their top cornerback intercepted three passes, broke up 10 and improved throughout the year.
The bounce-back campaign restored the Tennessee State product's status around the league.
"Jack Del Rio is the defensive coordinator and is the kind of guy who likes [cornerbacks] to get up in [a receiver's] face, knowing that this is a timing league and you can disrupt timing or passing," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "That is what he instills in us. The main thing is press more. I pressed a lot more this year."
He certainly was not the member of the Broncos secondary that entered this week on retirement watch. That honor belonged to Champ Bailey, who at 35 will be making his first Super Bowl appearance. But Bailey said Sunday that he has yet to contemplate walking away from the game.
"I'm not really thinking about retiring if I win," Bailey said. "All I'm thinking about is winning and doing what I've got to do to win the game. ... After the game, we'll talk about that." Rodgers-Cromartie did not maintain the same moratorium, leaving everyone to wonder if this might be the last time the former first-round pick takes the field.