The New York Jets reportedly were content to let cornerback Antonio Cromartie sign elsewhere. Now, he has.
Cromartie, cut by the Jets earlier this offseason in a cap-saving move, agreed Thursday to a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals. He will partner there with Patrick Peterson, Jerraud Powers and safety Tyrann Mathieu in what has the potential to be an excellent secondary.
All roads seemed to be leading toward a Cromartie-Jets reunion after New York missed out on all of the top free-agent cornerbacks. The New York Post's Brian Costello quoted a source Tuesday, though, as saying that Jets GM John Idzik was not heavily pursuing the 29-year-old Cromartie: "Don't count on them getting Cromartie. They're not being very aggressive."
Perhaps Cromartie's drop-off in performance last season pushed the Jets in another direction. He was stellar in 2012, stepping up as the team's lock-down cornerback after Darrelle Revis suffered a season-ending knee injury. The tune changed in 2013, with Cromartie slumping throughout the year -- and receiving little help across the field from Dee Milliner and the rest of New York's secondary.
Cromartie may benefit then from slightly less responsibility in Arizona, assuming the Cardinals continue using Peterson as their top CB, matchup-wise. A one-year deal should keep Cromartie motivated, with the prospect of one more big-money contract potentially on the horizon prior to the 2015 season.
That Cromartie took the short deal may be evidence that his personal market was not quite what he anticipated after being released by New York. Several other recently signed corners will head into this coming season on one-year contracts, including Walter Thurmond, Tarell Brown, Charles Tillman and, of course, Darrelle Revis. Cromartie no doubt fell well short of Revis' $12 million contract.
Grade: B-plus. Despite sitting in arguably the toughest NFL division and coming off a year that saw them miss the playoffs at 10-6, the Cardinals clearly are gearing up for a postseason run right away. Nabbing Cromartie on what appears to be a low-risk contract is a strong move for the second week of free agency, even more so because of what Arizona already has stockpiled in the secondary. COVER-TWO: Early NFL free agency awards