From Antonio Cromartie's perspective, the surprise wasn't that he was released Sunday by the New York Jets; it's that he never got a chance to talk to the team about renegotiating his bloated contract.
Cromartie, a guest Monday on ESPN New York 98.7 FM's Stephen A. Smith & Ryan Ruocco, confirmed that the team wasn't interested in finding a way to pare down his $14.98 million cap charge. Basically, it was a cold cut. Thanks for the memories; you're fired.
"I just thought, for us, me and my agent would get an opportunity to come in and either talk about an extension to get the cap number down or try to restructure," the veteran cornerback said. "But, right now, we didn't hear anything from them."
The most realistic option was a straight pay cut. He was entering the final year of his contract, due to make $9.5 million in salary and bonuses, including a $5 million roster bonus this week. It made no sense for the Jets to extend the deal -- not for a soon-to-be 30-year-old corner with a bum hip -- unless it was just a window-dressing extension for cap purposes. But they never got around to talking numbers.
Cromartie said he would like to finish his career with the Jets and didn't rule out the possibility of re-signing for less money.
"Just talking with the guys [Sunday], the door is still open and that's how I look at it," he said, adding, "I'm going to test the market to see where my numbers are."
Hampered by a strained hip flexor, Cromartie struggled last season. After two months of rest, he claimed he is healthy, predicting, "You're going to see the Antonio Cromartie of old" in 2014. He wants to play eight more years, five at corner, three at safety.
Cromartie took the high road, refusing to bash the Jets. Why bite the hand he hopes will feed him again? He praised coach Rex Ryan and the entire roster, saving his most effusive comments for safety Antonio Allen. He said Allen has "freakish" athletic ability and, if he becomes a consistent player, could be "the next Ed Reed." Allen is an ascending player, no doubt, but that's way over the top.