New York Jets: Solving the cornerback problem

Antonio Cromartie still has some good football left in him.

That’s my opinion, or “take” as the kids call it these days. Of course, John Idzik knows football better than I do, and Cromartie will have to try to prove me right and Idzik wrong from Glendale, Arizona. The New York Jets thought they could do better than Antonio at cornerback. They could have, if they had signed any of the several top free agent corners available. The Jets had had reported ties with Alterraun Verner, Vontae Davis, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Captain Munnerlyn. Brent Grimes and Aqib Talib were available.

Heck, taking back Darrelle Revis would have come with its baggage; baggage with astronomical baggage fees, but even that would be better than what the Jets have now.

So the Jets are left with sophomore Dee Milliner, nickelback Kyle Wilson, Darrin Walls, and Ellis Lankster. They did sign two second-rate corners over the last few months: Johnny Patrick, off waivers from San Diego, and Dimitri Patterson from Miami, when every other cornerback was gone. Less than two years removed from having the top cornerback tandem in the league, the position is now the Jets’ Achilles heel.

Heyyy, hey, don't worry about it. Greer with a bad ACL is still better than Johnny Patrick.

Heyyy, hey, don’t worry about it. Greer with a bad ACL is still better than Johnny Patrick.

So how should the Jets fix their cornerback problem? I still don’t believe going one route and adding one player makes everything better. I instead offer a three-pronged approach:

SIGN JABARI GREER

I can no longer ignore that the Jets need to draft a cornerback or two, but I am still firmly against drafting a cornerback in the first round. Until they signed the 30-year-old Patterson, the Jets’ oldest CB was Lankster, at 27. They’re green, and I don’t mean their uniforms. Rob Ryan should suggest to free agent Jabari Greer a visit up north to Rob’s brother, Rex. When he recovers from his torn ACL, the former Saint cornerback has never made more than 3 interceptions in a season, but he can bring veteran insight and, more importantly, probably start opposite Milliner.

DRAFT TWO CORNERBACKS

There is not enough room on a 53-man roster for 11 cornerbacks, but having 12 draft picks next week gives the Jets the luxury of filling up at positions of need and having everyone duke it out. Spending a sixth-rounder on a cornerback doesn’t mean the Jets have to keep him on the roster after the MetLife Bowl. It’s for competition’s sake. The Jets should start looking for corners around the third round.

LET THE HUNGER GAMES BEGIN

As stated above, the Jets’ cornerback problem isn’t one of quantity, but quality. There’s no reason the Jets can’t draft a cornerback, watch him compete in training camp and decide to cut him in preseason. Johnny Patrick and Dimitri Patterson aren’t exactly locks, either. See who works out in Rex’s defense. See who’s a valuable special teams player. The truth is, the Jets’ “cornerback problem” isn’t going away anytime soon. But wait till August. The best players always emerge.

News and Notes: Michael Vick has chosen to wear jersey number 8 with the Jets. After saying he would not ask Geno Smith to give up number 7, which Vick has worn since high school, Vick took to social media to have fans decide between #8 and #3. The last Jet to wear #8 was quarterback Mark Brunell in 2010-2011.

~This Vick/Smith competition is really heating up, though, huh? Eagles RB LeSean McCoy has supported Vick, saying his former teammate is “way better” than Geno Smith. (When he said this, McCoy had barely finished declaring his two-year-old son was a better football player than Tim Tebow.) Then, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg told reporters Tuesday that Geno will be taking the snaps with the first-team offense when organized team activities roll around. ESPN analyst Jon Gruden told USA Today that the Vick/Smith competition will be “a photo finish.”

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