It might be a lot tougher to throw against the New York Jets next season.
A few hours before the NFL's free-agency period began, the Jets agreed to acquire talented but troubled cornerback Antonio Cromartie from the San Diego Chargers in a trade Thursday night. The deal was completed Friday.
NFL Network's Jason La Canfora reported the trade, and the Jets later confirmed the deal to The Associated Press but didn't release specifics. According to La Canfora, the Chargers will receive at least a third-round selection in 2011, and it could become a second-round pick, depending on Cromartie's performance.
Cromartie was an All-Pro in 2007 and will team with Darrelle Revis in the Jets' secondary, making them possibly the best cornerback tandem in the NFL. Cromartie replaces Lito Sheppard, who was released earlier in the day after one disappointing season.
It could be a welcome change for Cromartie, who has struggled the last two seasons. He has 15 interceptions in four seasons since being the 19th overall pick out of Florida State in 2006, but the Chargers were dissatisfied with Cromartie's performance late last season and in the playoffs. Chargers general manager A.J. Smith made it clear that he would try to trade Cromartie.
One of Cromartie's low moments actually came against his new team in the playoffs in January. Cromartie froze as Jets running back Shonn Greene hit the hole at the start of a 53-yard touchdown run that gave New York a 10-point lead midway through the fourth quarter of a 17-14 victory in the AFC divisional round. Cromartie eventually caught up to Greene and gave him a shove well after he'd crossed the goal line -- but the cornerback already had drawn the ire of fans and apparently the Chargers.
Cromartie, 25, also has had his share of legal troubles. He has dealt with at least five paternity suits; he has fathered seven children by several woman. Cromartie also had a bar patron claim that the cornerback hit him in the head with a champagne bottle hours after the team's victory at Denver last November. San Diego police later said there wasn't enough evidence to prove the claim.
Despite the issues both on and off the field, Cromartie gives Jets coach Rex Ryan an athletic player with loads of potential.
In his second season in 2007, Cromartie set the Chargers' franchise record with an NFL-leading 10 interceptions, and he added two more picks in the playoffs as San Diego made it to the AFC Championship Game. He also was credited earlier in that season with the longest play in NFL history when he returned a missed field-goal attempt by the Minnesota Vikings 109 yards for a touchdown.
Cromartie boasted the next season that he wanted to break the NFL record for interceptions with 14, but he had just two while playing throughout the year with a hip injury. Cromartie had three interceptions last season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.