As Ferris Bueller once told us, life moves pretty fast. This is especially true in the NFL. One day, you're the hot free-agent pickup. A couple of short years later, it feels like you're yesterday's news.
This is what it feels like, right now, to be New York Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The Giants made a couple of major moves at his position this offseason, signing free agent Janoris Jenkins to a five-year, $62.5 million contract and selecting Ohio State's Eli Apple with the No. 10 pick in the draft. Veterans always say the one thing they hope about the draft is that the team doesn't pick anyone who plays their position. Rodgers-Cromartie is certainly veteran enough to read those kinds of tea leaves.
The chances of Rodgers-Cromartie being on the 2017 Giants are incredibly small. His contract has no guaranteed money left, and he'd be a $4.5 million cap savings for them if released next spring, when he'll be turning 31. His cap number this year is $8 million, same as Jenkins. But Jenkins' cap number jumps to $15 million in 2017, which strongly indicates that Rodgers-Cromartie's 2017 number of $8.5 million isn't in their plans. He's an extremely likely cut if he's still on the roster after this season.
That makes you wonder if it's a sure bet he will be.
If Apple comes quickly this offseason and looks in camp as if he could be a starter right away, it's not a crazy idea for the Giants to think about trading Rodgers-Cromartie. A starting cornerback with his level of experience and a $5.98 million salary would be extremely attractive to teams looking for help at the position (which is a lot of teams). The Giants have needs elsewhere on the roster, most notably the offensive line, and it's not out of the question that they could look to address those needs by dealing a player who's not in their plans beyond this year.
Obviously, the counter-argument to this is that you can't have too many cornerbacks and that, if Rodgers-Cromartie is such a bargain, why not keep him and maintain your depth at a crucial position? That argument makes sense and could carry the day in the end. Dealing Rodgers-Cromartie this summer only makes sense if Apple is going to be able to start right away, and that's a big "if" for a rookie who doesn't turn 21 until the second week of training camp.
But there's no question that Rodgers-Cromartie has frustrated some in the Giants' hierarchy with his tendency to ask off the field for stretches during games due to the physical issues he says keep nagging him. And the Giants' cornerback depth chart doesn't look balanced right now, with Rodgers-Cromartie, Jenkins and Apple all suited for outside duty and no real obvious choice for the nickel spot. They had Leon Hall in for a visit recently, and he could be a candidate for the nickel if team doctors clear him and he signs. Brandon Boykin is a free agent again and could be a candidate as well. Trumaine McBride remains unsigned. They can fix that problem without trying to shoehorn Apple into a role with which he's not comfortable.
The Giants have done a lot to address the cornerback position this offseason, but that doesn't mean they have it exactly the way they want it. If you were betting on it, the best guess is that Rodgers-Cromartie plays for them this year. But it's not a certainty, and it might actually make some sense for them to see what they can get for him.