When Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was exploring his options as a free agent last winter, he wasn't looking only for the right system or the right coaches or even the right money. He was looking to put down roots for the first time in his career and give himself some stability after playing for three different teams in a four-year span.
"I haven't really found anywhere to just call home for real," he said in March. "So if I can just settle down and find a place to be home, I know my best football is ahead of me."
He eventually signed with the Giants, a five-year, $35-million contract that allows him to pretty much buy all of the houses he ever wanted. But has the New York area become a home for the traveling cornerback in search of a permanent address?
As he prepares to visit one of his former residences -- he spent two seasons with the Eagles -- and faces the second of his three former teams in the span of five weeks Sunday night, it seems he has.
"I think I've definitely found some guys that accepted me and allowed me to come in and be a part of something that they already had," he said this past week. "It definitely feels good to be accepted and we'll go from there."
That wasn't the case when Rodgers-Cromartie first arrived in Philadelphia. He was traded from the Cardinals, the team that drafted him in the first round in 2008, to the Eagles at the start of training camp in 2011. Immediately, he was part of what some Eagles players called the "Dream Team," a roster stacked with newly acquired talent on both sides of the ball. But Rodgers-Cromartie said he never fit in.
"I came in at a bad time, being traded in, not being one of the guys that they drafted," he said. "I really didn't think [I would be there long]. A lot was being said, a lot of pressure being put on that team that we didn't answer. I was there at a bad time."
The Eagles went 8-8 in 2011 (and watched the Giants win a Super Bowl) and 4-12 in 2012.
"As far as playing and being a competitor and wanting to win and do good and come up short," Rodgers-Cromartie said, "it was definitely difficult."
He signed with the Broncos as a free agent for 2013 and played with them in the Super Bowl. But even as part of a team that met lofty expectations (at least until the final game of the season), he wanted more.
He even talked about retiring (he's only 28) if the Broncos had won the Super Bowl. When they didn't, he hit the market. He visited several teams. And then he signed with the Giants.
Not only did he fill a need for the team, adding a dominant player in the secondary, but the team seemed to fill a need in him.
"He's just extremely open with us when we're in conversations," fellow cornerback Prince Amukamara said. "Any time you can hang out with someone outside of work, you know it's more than just a work relationship . . . I think he's really enjoying it here."
"I think having Antrel Rolle here is very comforting for him," defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said of DRC's former teammate in Arizona. "He's a unique young man in the sense that he is very quiet in some respects and he is very competitive, too . . . I think he has become more comfortable speaking with his teammates and engaging with his teammates as well as his coaches. I really think that the young man is an outstanding individual and an outstanding person, and I didn't know that before."
Rodgers-Cromartie joked that of course the Giants would like him.
"I'm a likable guy," he said. "I come here just free-spirited, low-key, calm, laid-back. I can fit in. But I definitely have a good time here. It's been a good transition."
It's a joke because that might not have always been the case. Free agency may have made him wealthy, but it also made him a stranger in his own locker room at times.
"If you're getting paid pretty well, that definitely is a positive, and he was getting paid when he was bouncing around," Amukamara said. "But if you can stay with one organization, that normalcy and that consistency, you feel different. You feel comfortable. You don't have to be the new guy two or three more times wherever you go and now you have to get to know new players, new coaches, a new city, new town and stuff like that. Hopefully, this place is home for him for a while."
Can it be? Can Rodgers-Cromartie see himself finishing his career with the Giants?
He thought about it for a moment.
"Yes sir," he said. "As long as the opportunity presents itself, I definitely feel that."