One day after the New York Giants signed former Seattle Seahawks cornerback Walter Thurmond to a one-year, $3.5 million deal, the New York Giants doubled down on improving their secondary in a major way. As first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Giants agreed to terms with former Denver Broncos cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on a five-year, $39 million deal with $15 million guaranteed. The G-Men also signed former Chiefs, Eagles and Texans safety Quintin Demps on Sunday.
These signings mark a major upgrade for a Giants secondary that ranked eighth in Football Outsiders' opponent-adjusted pass defense metrics last season. And for the AFC champions in 2013, Rodgers-Cromartie ranked 11th overall among all qualifying cornerbacks with a 67.8 opponent passer rating allowed, giving up 30 catches on 68 targets in 472 coverage snaps for 473 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions.
Selected by the Arizona Cardinals with the 16th overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft, Rodgers-Cromartie amassed 13 interceptions with four touchdowns in three seasons for his first team, but saw his stats plummet for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011 and '12. The Broncos signed him to a one-year deal before the 2013 season, and under defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio's "tough love" mandate, Rodgers-Cromartie recovered nicely enough to get a fairly major payday.
“They gave me a chance, gave me a one-year deal," Rodgers-Cromartie said of the Broncos in the week leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII. "I felt it was out there in the middle of nowhere and I could zone in on football. It’s a football city. They didn’t tell me how good I was. I was kind of mad when I first got in the room and they put on a few plays, they weren’t good plays. I was like, where are they going with this. They said you do this and that and your game will improve. That really stuck out. They refined my game. I worked on it, worked on it in the offseason and had a good year."
MORE: 2014 NFL free agent tracker | NFL mock draft database: SI’s experts weigh in
Decidedly so. And now, he's got a slightly longer-term future -- something that was a concern of his when he was heard to contemplate retirement before the Super Bowl. Later, he tried to make that intention clear.
“You’ve got to understand. I think about [former Oakland Raiders and Baltimore Ravens cornerback] Fabian Washington who is from Bradenton [Fla.] just like I am. First round, one contract, got a one-year deal, never came back. I work out with him, he’s still fast, still in his prime and I think, ‘That could be me.’ I think about guys like that. I can’t speak on that [whether someone will offer a lot of money]. I am prepared for whatever. That’s what I mean about this being the last go-round.”
Interestingly, the Broncos had offered Rodgers-Cromartie a six-year, $54 million deal that would have paid him $24 million over the first three years, but would have included little in guarantees after that. He turned it down, and the Broncos signed former New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib to a six-year, $57 million contract instead.
“I definitely believe this is a championship team,” Rodgers-Cromartie said in the statement announcing the signing. “Starting with Eli [Manning], a great quarterback, a guy that you know can get it done. He’s done it, proven it before. They’re bringing in a lot of pieces, so I definitely think it’s going in the right direction.
“I haven’t really found anywhere to just call home for real. So if I can just settle down and find a place to be home, I know my best football is ahead of me.”
. Rodgers-Cromartie is an extremely talented player who eliminated a lot of the streakier aspects of his play with the right kind of coaching. With head coach Tom Coughlin and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell now in charge of his development, he should continue on that roll.