Antonio Cromartie has as much athletic ability as any player in the NFL. He has long frustrated fans of his teams because aside from 2007, he did not play like an elite level player. He has been a target for criticism among Jets fans, particularly for the contract he got.
Cro has frustrated me as well, but I think people should start laying off him. He had a really, really good year. Maybe playing next to Darrelle Revis, he does not look spectacular, but he was as good as any number two corner in the NFL this year. According to Pro Football Focus, there were only 42 corners who played at least 75% of their team's snaps. Only 7 of these allowed a completion percentage of under 50% on throws targeted at the man they were covering. Revis was one of them. Cromartie was the other. This is significant for Cro because of how many teams simply did not test Revis. Maybe Cro took too many penalties, but a lot of these came on suspect calls.
What really encourages me to believe this year was not a fluke is its timing. A lot of guys have great years when they are playing for a new contract. They get motivated because a good year can earn them millions of dollars. Cro had his year after he got paid. It feels like the coaching staff on the Jets finally got him to play with more consistency.
The Jets re-signed Cromartie because they did not think Kyle Wilson was ready to take a starting job. It is clear they felt it would take two more years for Kyle to be ready to start. The contract is built for Cromartie to be cut next year if Wilson is a go. According to NYJetsCap.com, cutting Cro would save the Jets $1.2 million if cut a year from now. This year, however, it would cost the team an additional $9.2 million. It is a good thing he would be coming back anyway. If you judge him next to Revis, there were a lot of hiccups. Compared with other number two corners, he was really good in coverage.