Jets release Cromartie, door open for return

Antonio Cromartie | New York Jets

In their ongoing efforts to free up salary cap space, the New York Jets released veteran cornerback Antonio Cromartie on Sunday. Officially a free agent, neither Cromartie or the Jets are shutting the door on a possible return to the Green and White.

The New York Jets released three-time Pro Bowl cornerback, Antonio Cromartie on Sunday. Cromartie has been one of the better-known Jets since his arrival four years ago from San Diego, in a trade for a second round pick. Head Coach Rex Ryan, spoke highly of the veteran.

"Cro is one of the finest athletes I've ever coached," head coach Rex Ryan said in a statement. "He was willing to contribute wherever the team needed him to win games, be it defense, special teams or offense. He has a passion and enthusiasm for the game and I wish him and his family the best."

Cromartie is a dynamic player and is used in a variety of ways. His excessive use as a playmaker might be his downfall as well as he's been battling injuries. Cromartie led the Jets secondary, a secondary that was the weak point of the Jets defense. Cromartie and rookie Dee Milliner often got beat for big plays.

The soon-to-be 30-year-old defensive back had possibly the worst season of his career in 2013. Battling through a hip injury this past season, Cromartie had three INTs along with eight pass deflections. Since Darrelle Revis's ACL tear in 2012 and subsequent trade to Tampa Bay, Cromartie has been the Jets No. 1 cornerback and had one of his best seasons in 2012.

Despite being released, there is a chance the Jets could bring No. 31 back. Cromartie has stated he wants to be a Jet and Jets may be interested in him for a significantly cheaper price. Cutting Cromartie wasn't a major surprise with him coming off his worst season and his contract eating up so much of the cap space.

Cromartie was due a base salary of $4.3 million in 2014, and his salary cap hit would have been nearly $15 million -- the highest total on the team. As it is, he leaves behind $5.48 million of dead money.

Coach Ryan piled on the praise of his former player. Despite the praise of being a terrific athlete that was willing to do anything to win, Ryan didn't mention much about Cromartie's football IQ or his awareness as a corner. Cromartie's greatest attribute in his athleticism might have been his greatest weakness as well as he often relied on his speed and athleticism too much. Often he had mental lapses in coverage and gave up the big play.

Despite Cromartie's inconsistent play, he should get solid offers from several teams. At 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Cromartie is a big corner who can make plays. A formula used by the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. Cromartie can play man coverage and help in special teams and would be a good fit for a playoff team that's thin at corner.

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