Antonio Cromartie’s reunion with the Jets was short-lived. After his erratic performance in 2015, they released the cornerback Monday.
Cromartie, 31, had his fair share of struggles in his first season in green and white since 2013. But the roster move was a business decision by general manager Mike Maccagnan, who in March signed Cromartie to a four-year deal that included a yearly base salary of $8 million. With no guaranteed money owed to Cromartie past 2015, the Jets were able to clear cap space of $8 million, which would have been his 2016 salary.
Cromartie had 29 tackles, 12 pass defenses, two tackles for loss and a fumble recovery in 2015. He also had a team-high 15 kickoff returns for a 25.1-yard average. But for the first time since 2006, he failed to record an interception.
The 10-year veteran expressed gratitude to the team and his Jets teammates in a long message posted to his official Instagram page.
“I would like to thank the Jets Organization for bringing me back this past season,” Cromartie wrote. “I had a lot of fun and I know my first half of the season didn’t go well and I thank you guys for pushing and believing in me while keeping me on the field so I could finish strong. Today is a sad day for me not because of my release but the guys I became really close to in our DB room.”
If both sides are open to it, he could return to the Jets on a cheaper deal. But in his social media post, he seemed resigned to this being the end of his time with the franchise.
“To Jets Nation, the most important people that make Sundays so fun . . . thank you for welcoming me back,” wrote Cromartie, who originally joined the Jets in 2010 in a trade with the Chargers. He was released in 2014 and played one season in Arizona (where current Jets coach Todd Bowles served as defensive coordinator) before rejoining the Jets last off season.
“Keep the excitement in the stands,” he wrote, “because Coach Bowles will have the guys right this upcoming season.”