After missing out on Reggie Nelson in free agency, there have been rumors about Antonio Cromartie moving to safety. In fact, the rumors have been largely driven by Cromartie's own Twitter account. This indicates that Cromartie has had at least preliminary discussions about a move with the coaching staff.
But would the move help the Jets defense?
Let's start with the benefits.
Cromartie is an absolute ball hawk. If the Jets want someone to play center field and roam around looking to make plays, they'd be hard pressed to do better than Cromartie. He would have excellent coverage skills for a safety and is fast enough and skilled enough to cover the Gronkowskis of the world.
Moving Cromartie to safety also opens up a spot on the depth chart for Kyle Wilson. Wilson, New York's 2010 first-round pick, has struggled in a nickel role, but has shown flashes of brilliance. Moving outside might be just the push the 24-year-old Wilson needs to reach his incredible potential. A fully developed Kyle Wilson to go along with Darrelle Revis would create an incredible long term cornerback duo.
Finally, it allows the Jets to save money they'd otherwise have to spend on another safety. The Jets are already locked into Cromartie's $32 million contract, but it'd be impossible to maximize the value on him, Wilson and Revis if they're all playing the same position. By moving Cromartie to safety, the Jets could have all three on the field at the same time in the base defense.
There is one pretty big risk here though—Antonio Cromartie has the tackling ability of an average high school tight end. While he can cover tight ends, bringing them down is another story. In both run support and in the red zone, this could present a real problem.
It also puts a lot on the shoulders of Kyle Wilson. While I (and the Jets) believe in Wilson's potential, it's a pretty big risk to break up one of the better cornerback duos in the league.
Overall, I think the pros outweigh the cons. The Jets simply don't have enough in the way of coverage safeties. Antrel Rolle made the move successfully, and Charles Woodson is expected to within the next couple years. It happens fairly often. I don't see why Cromartie can't be the next corner to make the shift.