A year after bringing him back on a four-year contract, the Jets have released cornerback Antonio Cromartie, the team announced today in a press release. As a vested veteran, Cromartie will become an unrestricted free agent without having to pass through waivers, giving him a head start on this year’s free agent period.
Cromartie, who turns 32 in April, had earned three consecutive Pro Bowl nods from 2012 to 2014, earning him a four-year, $32MM deal with the Jets last March. However, he wasn’t as effective as usual during his first season back in New York — Pro Football Focus ranked him 86th out of 111 qualified cornerbacks.
Because Cromartie’s pact was essentially a pay-as-you-go deal, it allowed the Jets to get out of it this year without taking on any dead money for the veteran corner. In his first year, Cromartie earned a $5MM base salary and a $2MM roster bonus. For 2016, his $8MM base salary was fully non-guaranteed, so New York creates $8MM in cap savings by releasing him.
While Cromartie will hit free agency, it doesn’t appear likely that the Jets’ other big cornerback signings from 2015 are going anywhere this offseason. With Darrelle Revis, Buster Skrine, and former first-rounder Dee Milliner among the cornerbacks in the mix for New York heading into 2016, the team may look to fortify the position with an addition or two in free agency and/or the draft.
As for Cromartie, he figures to draw interest on the open market, despite coming off a down year. A reunion with the Cardinals, his 2014 team, is one possibility, though he’ll likely have other suitors.
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