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Why did Jets sign Dimitri Patterson in first place?

Jets cornerback Dimitri Patterson during NFL football training

Jets cornerback Dimitri Patterson during NFL football training camp in Cortland, N.Y., Friday, July 25, 2014. Credit: Hans Pennink

Somewhere, Antonio Cromartie must be shaking his head. Or as they say on social media, #SMH (shaking my head).

Surely, the veteran cornerback understands just how silly this all looks now that his former team has cut ties with his replacement before said replacement even set foot on the field for a regular-season game.

The Jets had hoped that Dimitri Patterson would be that relatively inexpensive one-year rental that Cromartie gladly would have agreed to. But now the Jets are left with egg on their face after spurning Cromartie and then signing Patterson to a one-year, $3-million deal in April. Less than five months later, the Jets suspended Patterson after he mysteriously left the team just before last week's preseason game against the Giants. And on Saturday, they bid a final goodbye to the 31-year-old cornerback by releasing him.

You could see this move coming with the back-and-forth between coach Rex Ryan, general manager John Idzik and Patterson. After Ryan and Idzik said Patterson went AWOL without communicating with the team, Patterson accused both men of lying in a text message to ESPN's Josina Anderson.

So let's see.

First, Patterson quits on his team -- and yes, by failing to show up for a game in which he was expected to play, that is quitting.

Next, Patterson reports back to the team, explains himself to Ryan and Idzik, and is suspended while the Jets get more information about exactly what happened last weekend.

And then there is the text message refuting the Jets' version of events.

Not a good way to ingratiate yourself with your new bosses. Not a good way to look after your financial well-being by risking $3 million -- money Patterson may never get back. After all, who's going to pay that much to a 31-year-old player with a history of injuries who was just suspended and released?

You knew it would not end well for Patterson. After Thursday night's preseason game in Philadelphia in which the Jets' backups were obliterated by the Eagles, 37-7, Ryan was asked about Patterson's contention that he hadn't gone AWOL and remained committed to the team. If you had seen the look on Ryan's face and heard the contempt in his voice, you would have known it was over for Patterson.

"We'll address that at the appropriate time," Ryan said through clenched teeth. "I'm not going to address it until Monday."

No need to wait that long. The Jets addressed it on Saturday, when they told him to get lost.

A sad ending for Patterson, and an unfortunate one for the Jets, too. They could have avoided this nonsense by giving that contract to Cromartie, who would have been happy to take it to stay with the team.

Cromartie was slowed by a hip problem last year and wasn't up to his usual standards; I get that. But he was checked out in the offseason and didn't need surgery, just rest. Cromartie, a year younger than Patterson, wound up signing a one-year, $3.25-million contract with the Cardinals and now starts opposite Patrick Peterson.

You don't think the Jets would be that much better off if Cromartie were here? At least they'd have a capable veteran in the secondary, not a journeyman like Patterson who had a history of injuries the last two years and dealt with ankle, calf and quadriceps problems early in the preseason.

With first-round cornerback Dee Milliner's status in question for the opener because of his own ankle problem, the Jets are down to players such as converted safety Antonio Allen, Ellis Lankster, Darrin Walls and Kyle Wilson, who can't be trusted to play on the outside and has been reduced to a nickel corner.

Ryan and Idzik were right to be done with Patterson and release him; no sense throwing good money after bad and keeping a player who quit on his coaches and teammates. It's the decision to sign Patterson in the first place that can be second-guessed. Especially when the Jets had a far more sensible alternative with Cromartie.


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