Jets prioritizing free agent list and Cromartie isn’t at the top

New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie (31) breaks up a pass intended for Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Lloyd at Invesco Field at Mile High on October 17, 2010 in Denver. The AFC East division leader Jets beat the Broncos 24-20. UPI/Gary C. Caskey

There appears to be conflicting reports when it comes to Antonio Cromartie’s future with the New York Jets. NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi is reporting that the team plans on letting the free agent walk this offseason, while Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post writes that the Jets have not “definitively decided to cut ties” with Cromartie.

Either way, it appears that the cornerback is not high on the Jets’ offseason priority list, which means things are sure to get interesting in Florham Park this spring.

In Cannizzaro’s report, he also confirms that the Jets’ top mission this offseason is to re-sign Santonio Holmes. The team already kept linebacker David Harris by franchising him earlier this week, so ensuring that Holmes is locked in as Mark Sanchez’s No. 1 receiver for the next four or five years is next on the Jets’ list.

After that, it’s unclear whether or not GM Mike Tannenbaum will try to re-sign Braylon Edwards or keep Cromartie. At some point, the Jets have to draw the line. It seems unlikely that they would be able to retain Holmes, Edwards and Cromartie, all while paying Harris top-dollar for one year under the franchise tag. They might be able to keep either Edwards or Cromartie, but not both.

Tannenbaum has already made it clear that he didn’t appreciate Cromartie’s postseason remarks about Tom Brady (whom the cornerback called an a-hole), the NFL, and the NFLPA, so Lombardi’s report makes sense. Keep in mind the Jets also used their first round pick on cornerback Kyle Wilson last year, so they have options if they do decide to let Cromartie walk.

It’s not lost upon Tannenbaum and coach Rex Ryan that Cromartie can get awfully lazy with his technique, too. He’s a big corner, so when he can get his hands on a receiver at the line of scrimmage, he usually has success. But as Pierre Garcon proved in the postseason last year, when he gets too tall in his backpedal he’s liable to get burned (much like any corner).

There’s also a possibility that Tannenbaum and Ryan want to make room for Nnamdi Asomugha, who will be available this offseason. A tandem of Asomugha and Darrelle Revis would be enough to keep even Brady and Peyton Manning up at night.

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