Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie's development into one of the NFL's best cover cornerbacks continued in 2013, and he has been rewarded for it in the form of a five-year contract with the New York Giants, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN:
CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie reached agreement with the New York Giants on a five-year deal, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 17, 2014
Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News provided financial details of the deal:
According to a source, DRC's five-year deal with the Giants is worth $35 million, according to a source. #NYG— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoNYDN) March 17, 2014
Schefter is reporting the deal is for $39 million, and he also passed along the amount of guaranteed money:
Giants are giving CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie a 5-year, $39M deal, including $15M gtd, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 17, 2014
Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports clarified the discrepancy between the two figures:
Andrew Brandt of themmqb.com confirmed there was a signing bonus handed out as well:
Re Giants/DRC, am told 10M signing bonus, 750k salary in 2014. 1M March roster bonus, 4.25M salary (2M of it gteed) in 2015. 16M/2.— Andrew Brandt (@adbrandt) March 18, 2014
The Giants later confirmed the deal via their Twitter account:
Rodgers-Cromartie commented on the move and being reunited with Antrel Rolle (via Vacchiano):
I was with him for two years in Arizona. He brought me in, took me under his wing and took care of me. So to be reunited with him is just a blessing. I know the things that he’s done in his career and the man he’s become. That’s going to be a help for me.
I’m glad to be here. Especially with Antrel and talking with the defensive coaches and the staff and even coach Tom (Coughlin), just talking with them, it’s going to be good.
Andrew Brandt of Monday Morning Quarterback had more details on the negotiation process:
Rex Ryan excited Rodgers-Cromartie with a pitch to put the cornerback “on an island” and make him a star. The Giants offered him detailed plans for facing every team in the division, describing how they would use him against specific receivers on the Cowboys, Eagles and Redskins.
Thus, as it always does, it came down to economics. The Giants’ deal, with a $10 million signing bonus and $16 million over the first two years, was superior. The Jets held to the structure of a one-year $6 million deal, with options going forward, until it became clear the Giants were closing in. Only then did the Jets present a different type of structure, with general manager John Idzik scrambling to make up ground while attending Teddy Bridgewater’s pro day. By then, however, it was too late; the Giants had won the intra-stadium battle.
The cornerback also commented on the number of teams he's played for in his short career (via Tom Rock of Newsday):
DRC on playing for 4th NFL team: "If I can just settle down and find a place to be home, I know my best football is ahead of me.”— Tom Rock (@TomRock_Newsday) March 17, 2014
Rodgers-Cromartie came to the Broncos this past season after two campaigns with the Philadelphia Eagles, and it was uncertain how he would fare. Injuries and poor play plagued Denver's defense for much of the season, but DRC was one of the few constants.
Although Rodgers-Cromartie wasn't given a Pro Bowl nod or any other accolades, he let his play do the talking. DRC started 13 games for the Broncos, reeled in three interceptions and essentially took the torch from Champ Bailey as Denver's No. 1 corner.
Because of that, the prevailing thought was that the Broncos had to find a way to retain him in free agency. According to Ross Jones of FoxSports.com, the Broncos and DRC's representatives had extensive talks at the NFL Scouting Combine, and he was identified as the team's top priority in free agency.
That led to Peter King of Monday Morning Quarterback calling a deal between the Broncos and Rodgers-Cromartie "likely" leading up to the free-agency period.
At 6'2" and 193 pounds with elite speed, it's tough not to like the tools that Rodgers-Cromartie brings to the table. That type of package appeals to essentially every team across the league, and Dan Durkin of CBS Local in Chicago rated him among the top potential free agents at cornerback:
my top-5 #nfl free agent CB list (in order): alterraun verner, aqib talib, dominique rodgers-cromartie, vontae davis, charles tillman.— dan durkin (@djdurkin) March 11, 2014
Despite Rodgers-Cromartie's fantastic play in 2013, there was some question as to whether he would even play in 2014. Prior to Denver's Super Bowl loss to the Seattle Seahawks, DRC discussed the possibility of retirement, but claimed that his comments were taken out of context, per Stuart Zaas of DenverBroncos.com:
They misunderstood what I was saying. What I was saying is that I got a one-year contract. There are many times that I've seen a guy get a one-year deal, and it doesn't pan out and that's it. So you have to think about life after football. That motivates you to go out and play hard. I'm not thinking about retiring in terms of giving up.
Luckily for DRC, his fears regarding a one-year contract were unwarranted. Rodgers-Cromartie did more than enough this past season to earn a long-term deal, and at the prime age of 27, there likely wasn't much hesitation in terms of giving it to him.
There is a lot to like about Rodgers-Cromartie as he is right now, but he has the potential to get even better. Although he isn't considered an top-notch ball hawk, he does have 19 interceptions over the course of his career, and he can do some special things with the ball in his hands.
Did Rodgers-Cromartie deserve a long-term deal?
Even more important than that, though, is Rodgers-Cromartie's ability to shadow the opposition's No. 1 receiver. That doesn't always lead to a lot of interceptions since quarterbacks stay away from him, but it impacts the game in a very positive way nonetheless.
Rodgers-Cromartie entered the league with the ability to excel based on his physical attributes alone, but over the past few years, he has seemingly learned the finer points of what it takes to be a great NFL cornerback as well.
Provided DRC continues to improve in the coming years, this could prove to be one of the best free-agent contracts doled out this offseason.
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