The New York Jets have always been about defense. It’s what brought them to back-to-back AFC Championship games in 2010 and 2011, and it is still their main developmental focus today.
But a good defense only stems from a talented roster. Most say it is what wins championships, and history seems to prove that. Just look at some of the most recent title holders: Seattle, Denver, New England – they all worked to build a team around their furnished defense (and stud quarterbacks, I guess).
So when it comes to teams that are slowly inching toward the Lombardi Trophy, it is quite eye opening that they sometimes fail to check all the engine lights on a working defense.
Sometimes it requires a new part, a reliable piece that can hold you over and give you solid, yet immediate results. For many NFL teams, these pieces can likely be found for cheap on the free agent market. One that stands out like a sore eye is veteran Antonio Cromartie.
The 11-year vet is still in top shape, possibly in better form than some other veterans currently in the league. He’s proved his worth before, from helping the Jets become one of the league’s most threatening defenses, to grabbing 10 interceptions in his sophomore year in San Diego.
Career wise, Cromartie averaged almost three interceptions a year and totaled over 400 tackles. In his final season with New York (2015) he had 12 pass deflections in 15 games played. He was relied on heavily in coverage and helped the Jets to a 10-6 record.
So why isn’t he in the league now?
It’s an unsolved mystery. While his age certainly hints towards why teams may be turning their heads, his production and veteran presence could very well put a team over the edge.
It sticks out even more with the recent news of Cromartie’s former teammate Darrelle Revis signing with the Kansas City Chiefs. Revis, who has been injury prone and has dealt with some off the field issues, has been granted another chance, and has yet to make the most of it. In his Kansas City debut, he was rightfully burned by his former team, and eventually benched.
Cromartie should be on an NFL roster, no doubt. His career consistency only proves that. Throughout his 11-year journey, Cromartie has played eight full seasons, and two out of the other three he played in 15 games. It’s impractical that teams continue to sleep on the veteran.
Cromartie agrees. As recent as Monday, Cromartie was still pleading for his return.
The Ravens are a team that could use him. Vying for a potential playoff spot, Baltimore will need to continue to be effective on defense. If they wish to make a final push for a Wild Card spot, their defense will need to carry them. Cromartie is fresh and adds an interesting component to current top-10 defense.
Current standout Eric Weedle thinks the team could use him as well:
The Ravens aren’t the only team that could use the vet. Teams like the Chargers, Rams and Saints, who are all preparing for a potential playoff run, could use Cromartie to support their young and developing cast.
So, hear me out NFL owners, coaches, and players. Cromartie is a plus, and could be the piece you need to fine tune that tired defensive, especially if you have intentions on hoisting the Lombardi Trophy this year.