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Free agent Antonio Cromartie open to returning to Jets

Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie speaks to the media

Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie speaks to the media at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, N.J. on May 16, 2013. Credit: Mike Stobe

PHOENIX - Antonio Cromartie hasn't ruled out a return to the Jets. Luckily for him, they desperately need cornerbacks.

"Like I've always said, my door's always open on returning. Everybody knows I didn't want to leave,'' Cromartie told Newsday Wednesday during a break from interviews on Radio Row at the Super Bowl. "But I'm going to keep my door open and see what happens.''

Cromartie, who still has a house in New Jersey, didn't hide the fact that he wanted to return to the Jets last year during free agency, even agreeing to take less money. But former general manager John Idzik chose not to re-sign Cromartie, who took a one-year, $3.5-million deal with the Cardinals.

Now that he's a free agent again, the four-time Pro Bowler could wind up playing in New York again -- this time for Todd Bowles, his former Arizona defensive coordinator.

"It's fun, to be honest with you, because he's a big-time guy that has a true open-door policy,'' Cromartie, 30, said of playing for Bowles this past season. He recorded three interceptions and 49 tackles.

"If you don't like something that's going into the defense or something that's going on, you can always talk to him and he'll throw it out. He's all about making sure his guys are playing fast and understand that simple is easy.''

Fellow Cardinals cornerback Tyrann Mathieu agreed.

"He's a great coach,'' said Mathieu, who has a child with Bowles' stepdaughter. "I think he's an approachable guy. I don't think the guys over in New York are going to have a hard time adjusting to him. He's soft-spoken, humble, but he knows what he's doing. He knows his job. He's one of the best at it.''

Cromartie said Bowles' defensive style is "very similar'' to what Rex Ryan used with the Jets, with one notable exception.

"I think he blitzes more than Rex,'' Cromartie said, smiling. "To me, it's the same defense. Nothing's changed. The guys there should be very excited about it. Demario [Davis] called me and asked me all about the defense already.''

Mathieu labeled Bowles' defense as "complicated'' and "complex,'' adding: "You've got to have some good players on defense, I'll tell you that much. But if you have one or two guys that can kind of control the group, the chances of succeeding are going to be great.''

Mathieu expects his former coordinator to steal some Cardinals in free agency.

"Absolutely,'' Mathieu said. "I wanted him to stick around for my prime and when I get my contract. But I guess New York is New York, right?''

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