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Jets obtain Cromartie from Chargers

SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 17: Cornerback Antonio Cromartie

SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 17: Cornerback Antonio Cromartie #31 of the San Diego Chargers warms up on the field prior to the AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the New York Jets at Qualcomm Stadium on January 17, 2010 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images) Photo Credit: Getty/Robert Laberge

The Jets mainly will be interested bystanders in the NFL free-agency signing period that begins today, thanks to restrictions related to the absence of a salary cap coupled with a solid roster that doesn't need many tweaks.

But that didn't stop them from making a key move via the trade front yesterday, as they acquired Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie for a third-round pick in the 2011 draft. The pick could become a second-rounder based on his playing time in 2010.

Cromartie will play opposite Darrelle Revis, arguably the best cover corner in the NFL. Cromartie replaces Lito Sheppard, who was released Thursday after just one season with the Jets.

Cromartie, 25, had 10 interceptions in 2007 but has totaled only five in his last two seasons.

The trade doesn't come without risk. Cromartie, signed through 2010, has plenty of off-field baggage. He has been named in at least five paternity suits during the past three years and has seven children living in five states.

Cromartie was the Chargers' first-round pick in 2006 but fell out of favor with the coaching staff in 2009. The Chargers have two other first-round picks at cornerback - Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason - making Cromartie expendable.

Meanwhile, there was plenty of busy work within the organization to prepare for the offseason, including releasing running back Thomas Jones and Sheppard, and tabbing the team's restricted free agents with draft-choice tenders. Jones will be released today to avoid payment of a $3-million roster bonus due Tuesday.

A report yesterday on Profootballtalk.com indicated that the team is willing to re-sign Jones to a lesser figure than his $5.8-million deal for 2010. That appears remote, however, unless Jones is willing to drastically reduce his contract demands.

The Jets placed a first- and third-round tender on wide receiver Braylon Edwards and tendered seven other restricted free agents. Running back/kick returner Leon Washington and wide receiver Brad Smith received second-round tenders yesterday.

It still is possible that the Jets will consider a deal for Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who is a restricted free agent but is believed to be on the market for the right price. The Broncos tendered him a first-round pick, an indication that they are willing to deal him for the right draft-choice compensation.

The Jets attempted to trade for Marshall last year but could not come to terms with the Broncos. They then acquired Edwards from the Browns.

Jets backup quarterback Kellen Clemens received an original-round tender (second).

Original tenders were placed on safety Eric Smith (third round), tackle Wayne Hunter (third) and cornerback Drew Coleman (sixth). The Jets have the right of first refusal on undrafted safety James Ihedigbo.

Special-teams ace Wallace Wright, also a backup receiver, didn't receive a tender and is free to sign with any team. Defensive tackle Howard Green and linebacker Marques Murrell also did not receive tenders.

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