When the Jets set up Cromartie's four-year deal in 2011, it was structured in such a way that it would protect the Jets should Cromartie's play diminish quickly. Did we just witness the Jets concerns coming true in 2013? Or was that just an aberration?
Cromartie has been adamant that he wants to retire a Jet, but with a down season in 2013 due to the substantial injuries he played through, coming back will be on terms favorable to the Jets. The Jets will know the true story on Cromartie's injury situation, but will it matter to John Idzik at the bargaining table? The Jets are going to want to protect themselves financially in 2014 if they continue on with Cro, now that he's going to be north of 30.
We spoke with our own cap experts, Bent as well as the estimable Jason Fitzgerald from OverTheCap.com.
Here's two options for the Jets should they choose to move forward with Antonio Cromartie.
One Year Deal: The quickest way to triangulate what Cromartie's value on a one-year might be for the Jets in 2014 will be the Brent Grimes deal in 2013 with the Dolphins. Cro & Grimes situations are similar, as they are both former Pro Bowl players dealing with an injury in the season prior. Grimes was 30 when he signed the deal (same as Cro will be). Grimes received a $5.5 million deal, with $2.25 million in signing bonus, $750,000 in salary guarantees and another $500,000 tied to being active on gameday. Grimes was an unfamiliar entity to the Dolphins, who were spending profligately to get better in 2013.
The Money: If Cromartie is looking to maximize his payday, he is going to have to prove to other teams that he was playing through serious injury and it impacted his play. The Jets of course will know the truth of the matter but expect a one-year deal to wind up in the $2.0 million to $4.0 million range.
Three Year Deal: Much of the logic remains the same except that there's a longer term investment, which might mean less upfront and few guarantees. A lot of what Cromartie might get from the Jets will depend on the demand in the cornerback market. Grimes will be a free agent again and Alterraun Verner should be the measuring stick for this class.
The Money: If good players coming off initial deals are signing long term deals at $5 million, then Cromartie is going to have to take much less, maybe even minimum levels. But if guys like Alterraun Verner end up averaging more than $10 million per season, then Cromartie probably comes in between $4.0 and $5.0 million. Asante Samuel's deal from 2012 might be a good measure. The cornerback market was hot and Samuel got a $2.25 mil bonus in his first year, which was the only guarantee, and then there were about $1 million tied to gameday activity bonuses with a non-guaranteed base of $1.25 mil. Over the next two years, the average per year rose with higher salaries, roster bonuses and escalator clauses. This is the likely kind of multi-year deal the Jets might do with Cromartie. A three year deal with $4.5 million or so per year with just the first year guaranteed and plenty of playtime bonuses and a backloaded salary.