Cornerback Antonio Cromartie, rumored to be a possible salary-cap casualty, said Monday he wants to finish his career with the New York Jets. Despite a prohibitive, $15 million cap charge in 2014, he's still hopeful he will return.
"Always," Cromartie said on the NFL Network's NFL AM show. "Like I said from the beginning, I expect to retire as a Jet. If anything that comes about with [being released], it’s going to be a situation of me trying to understand what there is to do, talk with my family, understand what we have to do if that situation ever came about. But I always considered myself a Jet and going to retire a Jet. Until I’m told otherwise, that’s my feeling."
On Sunday, ESPNNewYork.com reported that Cromartie told teammates he expects to be released in a cap-related move, but hopes to re-sign. The issue is his contract, which has one year remaining. By restructuring last offseason, he pushed money into 2014, inflating his cap charge. His deal also includes a $5 million roster bonus -- a significant chunk of money, considering his age (almost 30) and hip injury, which may require surgery.
Unless Cromartie is willing to waive the bonus or take a significant reduction in 2014 compensation ($9.5 million), he likely will be released. The Jets would save $9.5 million in cap space and could re-sign him to a more cap-friendly deal after he tests his value in the open market. If this scenario sounds familiar, it's because they did it last year with linebacker Calvin Pace.
Cromartie spoke highly of quarterback Geno Smith, saying he believes he can be a franchise quarterback for the Jets.
“I honestly think he is," Cromartie said. "I think just the way he handles himself, he handled himself as a true professional when he’s in the office. He’s in early in the morning – 5:30, 5:45 in the morning. He doesn’t leave until 7:00 at night, trying to understand defenses and understand where he needs to get better at. I think the last month of the season, you’re starting to see the progress of what he’s starting to understand about the offense, understand about himself.
"We have to understand that he’s a young quarterback -- he’s going to have his ups and downs -- and we as a defense and as an organization, we understood that. We could have won three other games in the conference during the season that we feel like we should have won with him being our quarterback but we didn’t. We finished the season at 8-8 with him, and we feel that we can grow with him.”