Steam comes out of the mouth of Antonio Cromartie as...

Steam comes out of the mouth of Antonio Cromartie as he walks in the cold weather before a game against the Oakland Raiders. (Dec. 8, 2013) Credit: AP

Antonio Cromartie reiterated his desire to remain a Jet for life during an appearance Monday morning on the NFL Network. But it remains to be seen if the front office shares that feeling.

The eight-year veteran knows there's a good chance he could be a salary-cap casualty. He carries a $15-million cap hit in 2014, which includes a $5-million roster bonus in March. There's also the issue of Cromartie's health. The cornerback, who turns 30 in April, is expected to meet with specialists to determine if he needs offseason hip surgery.

Both of those factors could force the Jets to cut ties with Cromartie, in hopes of re-signing him after free agency begins. Still, Cromartie remains hopeful he'll remain with them for the long run.

"I expect to retire as a Jet," he said. "If anything that comes about with [being released], it's going to be a situation of me trying to understand what there is to do, talk with my family, understand what we have to do if that situation ever came about. But I always considered myself a Jet and going to retire a Jet. Until I'm told otherwise, that's my feeling."

Cromartie also expressed confidence in Rex Ryan ("Bringing him back, he's going to excel more and more every single year") and praised the growth of rookie quarterback Geno Smith.

Asked if he believes Smith is the franchise quarterback for the Jets, Cromartie said: "I honestly think he is. He handled himself as a true professional when he's in the office. He's in early -- 5:30, 5:45 in the morning -- he doesn't leave until 7 at night; trying to understand defenses and understand where he needs to get better at.

"I think the last month of the season, you're starting to see the progress of what he's starting to understand about the offense, understand about himself . . . We finished the season at 8-8 with him and we feel that we can grow with him."

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