By Brad Carroll
The New York Jets are getting the band back together. And Jets fans couldn't be more excited.
Last season, the Jets had the worst group of cornerbacks in the league. In three days this offseason under the new leadership of general manager Mike Maccagnan, the Jets have put together one of the best. First, the Jets signed former star Darrelle Revis to a five-year, $70 million deal Tuesday night. Thursday afternoon, the Jets brought back another former star, cornerback Antonio Cromartie, for a reported four years and $32 million.
Throw in another free agent corner, Buster Skrine, who signed Tuesday, and a recovering-from-injury Dee Milliner, a former first-round draft pick, and the Jets should easily have the best four cornerback grouping in the league.
The names Revis and Cromartie are a far cry from last season, when guys like Adams, Walls and Williams all played significant roles.
Revis and Cromartie teammed to form the best cornerback tandem in the league from 2010 to 2012 in New York, but both ended up ex-Jets thanks to former general manager John Idzik. The since-fired GM traded Revis to Tampa Bay and let Cromartie walk to the Cardinals on the cheap a year later. Both moves backfired, much like all of Idzik's decisions, but after two years without the star duo, the Jets reunited them in what has already been an extremely successful offseason.
Breaking down how the revamped secondary will help next season is something even a non-NFL fan could see. The Jets allowed an NFL-high 31 touchdown passes last year. That number should decrease significantly.
After both Revis and Cromartie had down seasons in 2013, Revis with Tampa Bay and Cromartie with the Jets, both bounced back to their original form in 2014. Revis became an All-Pro and returned to the top of the cornerback food chain with an impressive season with New England, being a huge part of a team that won the Super Bowl. Cromartie made the Pro Bowl in his one season with the Cardinals, playing under new Jets head coach Todd Bowles.
The Jets are hoping to duplicate the success of the 2010 team, the first season with both Revis and Cromartie playing corner. The Jets won 11 games that season, the most since 1998, and came one win away from playing in the Super Bowl. The season ended with a five-point loss to the Steelers in the AFC championship game, one where the Jets slept-walked through the first half, dominated the second, but came up just short of a victory.
It's been downhill from there for the Jets, lowlighted by the trade of Revis and a complete mismanagement of the roster.
But this is a new day for the Jets, with a tip of the hat to the past.
The Jets have completely changed the team on both sides of the ball, and the signing of Cromartie puts a bow on the cornerback change. Next is the safety position, with Marcus Gilchrist a current target. If the Jets pull that off as well, they could have the best defense in the league.
The past two seasons have been put to rest quickly by Maccagnan, completely overhauling the roster for the better. And Jets fans can breathe easy for once, knowing their pleas for roster change are being heard loud and clear.