FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Hard feelings? What hard feelings?
Even though he was the fallback option at cornerback, behind Nnamdi Asomugha, Antonio Cromartie insisted Monday he doesn't harbor any bitterness toward the New York Jets for letting him twist in the free agent wind before coming to him with a four-year, $32 million contract.
He sounded sincere, but there was something about the process that stoked his emotions.
"Just know I have a big chip on my shoulder, and expect something really good this year," Cromartie said Monday after arriving at training camp on a red-eye from California and signing his new deal.
For four days last week, the Jets courted Asomugha, envisioning him with Darrelle Revis in what would've been an all-time cornerback tandem. Revis himself openly endorsed the team's decision to pursue Asomugha, who eventually signed with the Philadelphia Eagles for $60 million over five years.
Upon learning of the decision, the Jets turned to Cromartie, who played well for them last season -- but apparently not well enough to stop them from flirting with Asomugha.
Cromartie said he didn't pay attention to the Asomugha sweepstakes. Believe him? Asked why he has a chip on his shoulder, he said, "I still feel like I'm a No. 1 corner. ... Do I feel like Nnamdi is better than me? No. Do I think any other corner is better than me? No."
The Jets said they never eliminated Cromartie from their plans, and that they were simply checking out their options. Asomugha would've been an expensive option; it's believed they offered him $11.5 million per year, the same yearly average as Revis.
Coach Rex Ryan said he considers Cromartie a top-five cornerback, mentioning Revis and Asomugha as his No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. Ryan said they made one offer to Asomugha and never sweetened it.
"We said, 'This is it,'" he said.
Spurned, the Jets hit Cromartie with a full-court press, as Ryan, general manager Mike Tannenbaum and owner Woody Johnson called him over the weekend to deliver the sales pitch. An $8 million-a-year contract can smooth a lot of raw feelings.
Johnson said he wasn't disappointed by Asomugha's decision. As for Cromartie, he said, "I don't detect any feelings of being distraught."
Others felt differently.
"You have to feel like you're Plan B," Revis said, adding, "He felt comfortable here with us. That's the upsetting part about it. He felt this organization didn't see him as a priority to sign him back."
Revis said he was "very nervous" about losing Cromartie to another team. That would've been a blow to the defense, which is predicated on sound man-to-man coverage by the corners. Now, he believes, they can have the best tandem in the league.
Cromartie said he had no problem with Revis' public comments about wanting Asomugha. Just business, Cromartie said.
"We can be the best in the league," he said. "Me and Darrelle feel like we can go out and dominate and be even better than we were last year."
The Jets have $19.5 million per year tied up in their starting cornerbacks, and they also have last year's No. 1 pick, Kyle Wilson, on the bench. In theory, they should have their top three corners for the next three years.
"I want to prove them right," Cromartie said of the Jets, alluding to his four-year contract. "And I want to prove everybody else wrong."
Cotchery had back surgery in February to correct a herniated disk, which he played with throughout last season. He still managed to catch 41 passes for 433 yards and two touchdowns. Moore had surgery on his hip in February, but recently said he would be "ready to go when it's time to go."
Both players can come off the PUP list as soon as they are healthy.
Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.