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New Jet Cromartie vows to get his house in order

Antonio Cromartie had worn out his welcome in San Diego and practically was begging for a one-way ticket out of Southern California.

He got his wish - and a chance to reshape his image.

Cromartie, shipped to the Jets on Thursday in exchange for a conditional 2010 third-round draft pick that can escalate to a second-rounder, arrives in New York with more off-the-field baggage that can fit in an airplane's overhead bin.

But the Jets are confident that they can keep the talented but troubled cornerback on the straight and narrow, something that hasn't always been the case during his four seasons with the Chargers.

"We realize that for Antonio to be available, someone of his talent, at his age, at his position, there were some inconsistencies that may have happened out there," Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said. "Without those issues being out there, maybe he would have not been available.''

Cromartie, who turns 26 next month and is entering the final season of a five-year, $12.5-million contract, said he has made some irresponsible decisions. He has fathered seven children who are scattered in five states, reportedly owes $25,000 in unpaid child support and has been named in five paternity lawsuits in the last three years.

But he said he'll have everything ironed out by the start of the Jets' offseason conditioning workouts, which begin March 22.

"The things I need to get tied up and taken care of before I start the offseason workout program are my child support issues," he said. "Those things are being taken care of as we speak and they are being handled in the right way. That is the responsibility I have to take. Those are my kids and I am going to be the best father to them I can be. That is my responsibility off the field."

On the field, Cromartie's play has dipped the last two seasons, not even coming close to his 2007 Pro Bowl campaign in which he recorded a league-leading 10 interceptions. He has only five interceptions since then, partially blaming it on the Chargers playing more zone the past two seasons.

He thinks he'll thrive again now that he'll be in Rex Ryan's aggressive defensive scheme opposite Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis.

"It's rare to see a corner with his ball skills," Ryan said. "He's a difference-maker."

Notes & quotes: Tannenbaum wouldn't rule out a potential return by RB Thomas Jones, who was released Friday . . . Oft-injured CB Donald Strickland also was released.

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