2014 NFL Free Agents: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Denver Broncos cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (45) breaks up a pass intended for Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Donnie Avery. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Even before the Denver Broncos lost to the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl, rumors circulated that cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was contemplating retirement. But the 27-year-old free agent cleared up any confusion soon afterwards and declared himself ready for 2014 and ready for a long-term contract.

And a long-term deal he shall seek.

One of the top cornerbacks on the open market, Rodgers-Cromartie returned to the top of him game the past year with Denver after a disappointing two-year stint with the Philadelphia Eagles. Rodgers-Cromartie bounced back with three picks in 2013, including one returned for a touchdown, and 15 pass defenses.

There’s a lot of uncertainty in the Broncos’ secondary with Chris Harris coming off an ACL tear and Champ Bailey turning 36, so it seems likely the team will make a grand effort to retain Rodgers-Cromartie, who graded out as the fourth-best cover corner according to Pro Football Focus.

Of course, impressive statistics in a contract year means the player is set to break the bank in the offseason. He, along with Alterraun Verner, Aqib Talib, Captain Munnerlyn, Sam Shields and Vontae Davis are among the under-30 cornerbacks available in free agency.

Last offseason, the top three multiyear deals handed out to Sean Smith, Cary Williams and Leodis McKelvin were worth between $5 and $6 million.  Rodgers-Cromartie’s one-year deal last season with the Broncos was worth $5 million.

If Denver can’t afford to keep DRC, perhaps the Arizona Cardinals would consider a reunion. Rodgers-Cromartie was drafted by the Cardinals, and should the team create cap room by releasing Jerraud Powers the team may have enough money to lure the free agent back to the desert to play opposite Patrick Peterson.

The New York Jets drafted Dee Milliner in the first round of last year’s draft to replace Darrelle Revis, and there’s a chance the team will have to replace Antonio Cromartie this offseason. Cromartie is expected to be released, and if he isn’t re-signed at a lower rate perhaps Gang Green will go after his cousin. By cutting Cromartie the team will have about $9 million to spend on DRC.

If the New England Patriots are unable to come to an agreement with their own free-agent corner Talib, perhaps going after Rodgers-Cromartie will be an alternative. Logan Ryan and Alfonzo Dennard are the New England’s best options at the position now, though neither are proven commodities and both struggled with Talib sidelined during the AFC Championship game. If Talib takes a big paycheck elsewhere, perhaps the Pats look to replace him with DRC.

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