In complete defiance of a perfectly reasonable free agent plan explicitly written out for them last Friday on this very website, the New York Jets cut veteran cornerback Antonio Cromartie Sunday.
But in that previous article, I mentioned that outside of Alterraun Verner, the free agent market for a number-one corner was dry. It turns out the Jets heard that part.
The day before the team released Cromartie (which saved the Jets $9.5 million in cap room for 2014), multiple media outlets reported the team had called Verner, the Tennessee Titans’ star corner who is about to hit free agency.
In his four-year career, Verner has eleven interceptions, including two off Geno Smith in the Jets’ week four loss to Tennessee in 2013. He has top-flight acceleration, and various scouting reports have called him intelligent, instinctive and a leader. Though the national media isn’t talking about him much yet, Verner could be one of the greatest prizes of the 2014 free agency period.
Other teams also realize this, so the Jets had better have a back-up plan. A quick Google News search will yield the names of at least four other teams also interested in signing the 25-year-old corner: the Rams, Vikings, Steelers and Lions.
Here’s the thing about chasing Verner. If the Jets aren’t able to close the deal and sign him, they don’t have a number-one cornerback. Dee Milliner showed some improvement late in his rookie year, but his early struggles proved he’s not ready to be a number one guy yet. Kyle Wilson has always been a nickel corner and will continue to be a nickel corner. The only place to find a pro-ready corner in the draft is in the first round. Should the Jets draft a cornerback in round one? For the second straight draft and the third in five years? Not when so many other needs are more pressing.
The Jets have an opportunity to get younger and more talented at CB1 by signing Alterraun Verner. If they let him get away, however, there aren’t many other great Alterr-natives in his stead.
News and Notes: In a move far less surprising than the releasing of Cromartie, the Jets finally cut wide receiver Santonio Holmes Monday. The move saved Gang Green $8.25 million in cap space while further preparing a roster space for a new WR1 to be found in free agency or the draft.
~In addition to Verner, the Jets have also been rumored to have interest in impending-free-agent Chiefs guard Jon Asamoah. Asamoah has started 41 games in his four-year career after Kansas City drafted him in the third round out of the University of Illinois in 2010. New York has a serious dearth of talent at left guard, and Asamoah would be able to fill the position with his 6’4, 305-pound body. He has spent most of his time at right guard in Kansas City, but could still play well at left guard. Alternatively, if the team re-signs last year’s starting right guard Willie Colon, they might move Colon to left guard, the position he played in his final year with the Steelers in 2012, and start Asamoah at right guard.
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