There was a lot of buzz Wednesday night about Antonio Cromartie, and the reason was because Mike Lombardi reported on NFL Network that the Jets will "likely" let the veteran cornerback leave via free agency.
As of Wednesday night, the Jets still hadn't made a decision on Cromartie, according to a league source. That may be true, if you want to play the semantic game, but don't think for a second that the front office hasn't mapped out an off-season game plan -- actually, multiple game plans, taking into account all the variables of a lockout, a new CBA, etc.
And you get the feeling that, no matter how the labor situation shakes out, the Jets aren't going to break down any doors to re-sign Cromartie.
You knew something was up when GM Mike Tannenbaum, in his end-of-the-season address, gave a less-than-effusive evaluation of Cromartie.
“By and large, he had a good year on the field,” he said. “It wasn’t perfect, but I’m glad he was a Jet.”
On the field? A guy like Tannenbaum, who measures every word, doesn't use the phrase "on the field" unless there's something amiss off the field. As I wrote at the time, people in the organization were turned off by Cromartie's behavior at the end of the season, which included his profane remarks about Tom Brady, his Twitter war with Matt Hasselbeck and his derogatory comments about the union and NFL leaders in the labor situation.
Cromartie also drove the coaches crazy throughout the season with his reluctance to play the proper techniques, namely when they called for aggressive, bump-and-run coverage.
The Jets used a first-round pick on CB Kyle Wilson, who, despite a washout rookie season, still is "paramount" in their plans, according to Tannenbaum. If the Jets say goodbye to Cromartie, it will fuel intense speculation about the possibility of pursuing free agent Nnamdi Asomugha.
Financially, it wouldn't make sense to have the two highest-paid corners in the league, Asomugha and Darrelle Revis, but know this: Rex Ryan loves Asomugha. Hmm. It could get interesting.