New York, NY, United States (4E Sports) – The New York Jets have released Pro Bowl cornerback Antonio Cromartie, creating $9.5 million in cap space which they could use to pursue a top free agent cornerback.
The move was expected since Cromartie was due to receive a $5 million roster bonus in the coming days.
According to sources, the Jets have reached out to Alterraun Verner of the Tennessee Titans.
The Jets are open to the possibility of re-signing Cromartie at some point, a source said, but there are concerns about his age and a chronic hip injury that plagued him last season.
The Jets were ranked 22nd in pass defense, in part, because Cromartie struggled to replace Darrelle Revis as the No. 1 cornerback. It was a significant drop off for Cromartie, who enjoyed perhaps his best season in 2012.
“Cro is one of the finest athletes I’ve ever coached,” coach Rex Ryan said in a statement. “He was willing to contribute wherever the team needed him to win games, be it defense, special teams or offense.”
Cromartie, who turns 30 on April 15, was heading into the final year of a four-year, $32 million contract. He renegotiated last offseason, pushing money into this year. The result was a prohibitive $14.98 million cap charge.
Aside from Cromartie, the Jets could also release wide receiver Santonio Holmes as it could create another $8.25 million in cap space.
Quarterback Mark Sanchez also is a likely cap casualty, which would create another $9 million in room. Two years ago, the Jets’ cornerback tandem of Cromartie and Revis was the envy of most teams.
In four seasons, Cromartie made 13 interceptions, played a handful of plays on offense as a wide receiver and delivered a long kickoff return that helped beat the Indianapolis Colts in the 2010 playoffs.