Antonio Cromartie

Cromartie would make a nice dime back…

The San Diego Chargers need a running back. LaDanian Tomlinson, who will turn 31 in June, is likely to be released by the team after gaining only 730 yards and averaging 3.3 yards per carry in 2009. His backup, Darren Sproles, will be a restricted free agent.

The Chargers could re-sign Sproles, but after paying him $6.6 million last season to be a backup, that seems increasingly unlikely. That’s left the Chargers looking for their next feature back and they’re apparently dangling cornerback Antonio Cromartie as trade bait.

Both the Dallas Cowboys – with Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice – and the Buffalo Bills – with Marshawyn Lynch and Fred Jackson – have starting backs to trade. However, neither of those teams seem to be terribly interested.

According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, the Packers are. Although they don’t have a running back to trade the Packers might be willing to give up a draft pick for Cromartie.

Cromartie is a former first-round draft pick and starter in San Diego, but the Chargers currently have Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason entrenched as their starters, making Cromartie expendable.

While Cromartie would be an upgrade for the Packers over, say, Jarrett Bush, he does have a downside. Cromartie’s best season came in 2007, when he intercepted 10 passes. In the two years since, he’s totaled five interceptions.

Living on the west coast, we see a lot of Chargers’ games and I can tell you from watching first hand, Cromartie isn’t all that. If the Packers traded for him, he would definitely upgrade the secondary, but in my mind, he’s only the fourth cornerback if Al Harris comes back strong from reconstructive knee surgery.

In the event Harris doesn’t return to top form, which is entirely possible, Cromartie would be a valuable nickel back behind Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams. Overall, he makes the Packers defense stronger because they wouldn’t have to trot out guys like Bush and Josh Bell.

If the Packers can acquire Cromartie for a fifth, or perhaps even a fourth-round pick, it’s a good deal. But be warned, you better lock up your daughters if you live in Green Bay.

Cromartie has seven kids in five states and has had a number paternity suits filed against him.

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