New York Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is on the move.
No, not to another team and not as a salary cap cut as some anticipated. Rather, the 32-year-old cornerback is moving to free safety, according to a NFL Network report.
Rodgers-Cromartie is set to count for $8.5 million in the final year of his five-year deal signed in 2014. There were whispers at the end of last season, shortly after new general manager Dave Gettleman was hired, that a position switch might be in Rodgers-Cromartie’s future.
The switch apparently crystalized once the new coaching staff, and, in particular, defensive coordinator James Bettcher, was hired.
Rodgers-Cromartie will compete with third-year man Darian Thompson for the starting job. Thompson, who missed most of the 2016 season (his rookie year) with a foot injury, was underwhelming in 2017 considering his reputation from college as a ball hawk.
Per Pro Football Focus, Thompson recorded just one interception and three passes defensed while allowing two touchdowns. But the more glaring stat on Thompson’s record were the 13 missed tackles he recorded in 2017, which led the team.
That total included a Week 3 performance against the Eagles in which he was credited with four missed tackles, resulting in a reduction of his snaps the following week.
Rodgers-Cromartie struggled in 2017 at cornerback. He allowed 76.7 percent of the pass targets against him to be completed, giving up two touchdowns while breaking up just one pass and not recording an interception for a career-high 107.1 NFL rating.
While the receptions were up against Rodgers-Cromartie, he also allowed a team-best 8.0 yards per reception in coverage (among cornerbacks).
Position-wise, Rodgers-Cromartie played 340 of his 604 defensive snaps as a slot cornerback in 2017, and just 21 snaps at safety, including 13 at free safety. Most of those snaps at safety came in the first half of the season; in the team’s final eight games, Rodgers-Cromartie played at free safety just once.
In the past, Rodgers-Cromartie had been resistant to moving inside.
At the end of last season, he was much more receptive.
“Hey baby, you can put me anywhere as long as I plan to get on that field a little bit, I don’t mind,” he told reporters. “Free safety, strong safety, linebacker, it doesn’t matter. I’m just trying to be out there.”
Would such a move work?
“Yeah definitely,” he said. “Back there you can see that ball a lot better and there ain’t that much responsibility at the free safety position. You’re just back there patrolling.”