Antonio Cromartie Being Traded to the Lions?

>> 3.01.2010

03 January 2009:  San Diego's Antonio Cromartie #31 breaks up a pass intended for Indianapolis' Reggie Wayne #87 during the San Diego Chargers' 23-17 playoff victory over the Indianapolis Colts at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, CA. Last August, Gunther Cunningham was “flat pissed off” about Lions defenders wimping out on making tackles:

We had four guys on that play last week turn it down. Not miss it, turn it down, in my opinion.  You can coach and teach and all that, but it's about building an attitude. It's about an attitude that we're going to build on this defense, or they're going to have to deal with me, and I don't think they want to do that.

So it surprised me a little, and Tom Kowalski too, to hear that the Lions are at the forefront of the Antonio Cromartie derby.  Why would that be surprising?

Well, there's this: a brilliant, and hilarious, mock Facebook page that savagely lays bare Cromartie’s lack of tackling effort in the AFC playoffs.  How could Gunther, a lover of old-school, hard-nosed defense, possibly be okay with trading for a corner whose clean-jersey play is the stuff of Internet legend?

Here’s a scouting report on Cro, at the time of his draft:

We are all familiar with the fact from a personal standpoint that I like big corners. This young man definitely fits the criteria. He’s a unique physical talent. We looked at the opportunity at bringing a guy in here that is going to give us playmaking ability in the secondary. When you watch the tape on him you see his ball skills and it’s very impressive . . .

When you look at the skills and you see the body of work he was involved with you feel very confident and comfortable that the only think that it comes down to is the medical. The medical came back absolutely fine. I’m confident it wasn’t a difficult choice to make. It was very evident that he was the one guy there that was clearly our choice.

Who said that?  The Chargers’ then-Head Coach, Marty Schottenheimer.  Remember when Gunther built those legendarily nasty Chiefs defenses in the mid-to-late 90s?  Yeah, that was with Marty at the helm.  Marty is not only a longtime friend and colleague of Gunther’s, they share a passion for old-school football.

In 1997, when Marty and Gunther’s Chiefs had the #1 defense in the NFL, they did it with corners James Hasty and Dale Carter.  Hasty was a little smaller, and a little feistier, but take a look at Carter: 6’-1”, 194 pounds, didn’t put up great tackling stats (when they managed to even keep track of his tackles) . . . but picked off 21 passes in his first seven years in the NFL.

These numbers look very, very much like Antonio Cromartie’s career to this point, and I’d think Cunningham would consider Cromartie & Buchanon, with King competing with James and/or a rookie for the nickel spot, a big upgrade over Buchanon, James, and a street free agent. Remember, it wasn’t tackling that Lions corners Philip Buchanon, Anthony Henry, and Will James couldn’t do last season—it was covering opposing wide receivers.

The other thing you have to consider is the price.  Tom Kowalski and Michael Schottey are both saying that Cro might be had for as little as a fifth-round pick—and that’s simply a must-do deal.  There’s no way that the Lions could add a corner of Cromartie’s physical skills in the fifth round—and, as I’ve said before, cornerback is a spot where rookies almost never provide drop-in upgrades; the learning curve is very steep.

This trade would add a talented veteran at a position of extreme need for a minimal price.  Given Martin Mayhew’s penchant for pulling these types of deals off, is it really that surprising?  All we can do now is wait for the beginning of the league year (Friday), when Cro’s salary becomes tradable, and hope.

13 comments:

Jimmerz,  March 1, 2010 at 4:44 PM  

I agree, for a 5th rounder, it's a no-brainer.

"Given Martin Mayhew’s penchant for pulling these types of deals off, is it really that surprising?"

I must be missing something with that statement. The guy fleeced the Cowboys in one deal that any GM would have pulled off in the same situation and people are ready to name him the next Ron Wolf.

Ty March 1, 2010 at 4:50 PM  

Jimmerz--

Don't forget, he also got Julian Peterson (a productive veteran who fit the system) in exchange for Cory Redding (a total waste of space with a massive salary). He also got the picks that became Sammie Hill, and Dan Gronkowski from the Jets for sliding back eleven spots and getting DeAndre Levy anyway.

Mayhew is good at maximizing value.

Peace
Ty

Weston Corbitt March 1, 2010 at 5:11 PM  

If it is a fifth rounder pull the trigger. Even if they want Maurice Morris, do it. We need to upgrade the team at running back too, and you won't convince me we can win consistently with Morris as starter. This should be the first move we make in free agency, and probably the only major one, besides signing a Running Back (Chester Taylor) since we need to A) build the team through the draft like every good team ever does and B) do this on the cheap for a few seasons. This could make the team better for almost nothing. Can't pass that up and Mayhew seems too smart to. Don't forget he traded a backup QB destined to leave for a starter in our secondary. He really maximizes everything we have.

witless chum,  March 1, 2010 at 5:22 PM  

Yeah, Weston, I agree that the second trade was also a good move, given that Jon Kitna was obviously going to leave.

Anthony Henry wasn't great last year, but he wasn't worse than the guys the Lions were signing off the street. The Lions aren't a free agent destination, so these kind of trades are sometimes going to be the only way to add players.

Jimmerz,  March 1, 2010 at 6:09 PM  

Anthony Henry was terrible, but I suppose yes, we gave up nothing for terrible, so I guess that's worth something. As for Peterson for Redding...wait till you see Peterson's salary for this year. Yowza. I'm actually hoping we release him and just take that money to sign Foote or even someone else.

Mayhew has shown that he at least seems more competent than Millen (which isn't saying much), and it's WAY too early to determine how he's done, but in my mind he's made more questionable moves than not.

Anonymous,  March 1, 2010 at 6:26 PM  

Cromartie is a young talented player that has the body type and athletic ability of a top notch corner. Morris and a 5th round pick are assets to the Lions, but they are not assets that the Lions can absolutely not afford to lose. Giving those up to land a guy that has the potential to be a 26 year old stud corner is a no brainer in my books.
I also heard that Miami is in talks with the Lions about a Ginn for Avril trade. I'd make that trade as well. That would leave the Lions very thin at young DE's, but if they can sign VanDen Bosch or Kampman (or DeVries) then that will allow them a bit of time to get a young DE or two on the team. Ginn is the type of speed guy that the coaches want on the other side of Calvin.
This team could look very different from last year.

Weston Corbitt March 1, 2010 at 8:14 PM  

We had over 60% turnover from last year, and we could see about the same. We got to pull these trades because if the Chargers release him we have no shot. Henry was better than anyone we could get off the street and we gave up nothing, and now we could get a lot of something for nothing. We have to sign whoever we can get and hope for them to turn it around in Detroit (Buchanon, Morris, Johnson) until we get a core of young talent in the draft.

Restructure Peterson's deal and see if he can turn his game around. If not, hes gone. Trade Avril. We don't want to wake up and release him next year for nothing.

Neil March 1, 2010 at 8:53 PM  

The Lions almost have to make this trade if it's available to them. You can quibble all you want about Cromartie's flaws, but the simple fact is that as soon as he shows up in Detroit he will be the Lions best cornerback by leaps and bounds. I agree we have to be smart and not make trades just for the sake of making them, but you can't be too conservative either. If you are too careful, you know what happens? Nothing, and we can't exactly afford that, you know?

I just got done going through the defensive backs for the Lions over at my blog, and . . . man, we really, really still need a lot of help here. I don't see how you could turn down this trade(assuming it's a fifth rounder and Morris, or something roughly equivalent.) I just don't.

Ryan,  March 1, 2010 at 10:10 PM  

I would do the Cromartie/5th rounder in a heartbeat. I would do the Cromartie/5th and Morris in maybe 2 heartbeats.

When he played, Morris showed me enough for me to be comfortable with him having a larger role next season because of Smith's injury. BUT....He is not a long term answer. So if we can turn him and a 5th rounder into a long term answer at a position that needs a long term answer, I think we end up ahead.

Now I also read about the Ginn for Avril trade. I think I would do that as well. Avril has been a let down so far but this will leave us really thin in a position where we are thin enough already. I think it will force us to get creative in the draft and hopefully trade up to get Graham.

Ty March 2, 2010 at 10:38 AM  

Weston--

Agreed completely. I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable dealing MoMo until a Taylor or Sproles were comfortably in the fold, but yes--this deal would be an awesome first step to the offseason.

Peace
Ty

Ty March 2, 2010 at 10:56 AM  

Anon, Neil, Ryan--

I'm 100% on board. If it's a 5th for Cro, that is an absolutely must-do no-brainer deal. If it's a 5th and Morris, I'd hesitate and then do it. Ideally, if Morris were involved, the Lions would have another runningback inked already, but . . . they have to get Cromartie if they can.

Peace
Ty

Ty March 2, 2010 at 11:06 AM  

Weston, Ryan--

I really don't like the Avril/Ginn trade. Avril's almost certainly a better fit, skill-wise, for what Miami's doing--and yet, Avril's a talented young player at a position of need.

Ginn, meanwhile, is a worthless sack of crap who does us no good whatsoever. If you thought Bryant Johnson was a waste of space, wait until you see Ginn in Honolulu Blue!

I could be persuaded to get on board with an Avril-draft pick deal, if the pick was high enough (or pickS were plentiful enough).

Peace
Ty

Neil March 2, 2010 at 3:50 PM  

I wouldn't mind trading Avril, if only because he doesn't seem to fit with what the coaches want to do on defense. He seems like he would be an ideal fit as an outside linebacker in Miami.

But, we would still need to get something of value in return. Just because he is an ill fit doesn't mean that he isn't a fairly useful player at times.

Ted Ginn is not what I would call value in return. I would prefer a draft pick or, perhaps - and I haven't really looked at Miami's roster so I'm not sure what they have or don't have - a talented player who, like Avril with the Lions, doesn't fit with Miami's defensive philosophy for whatever reason.

If we can find a match, great. But I don't think we should just trading people just to trade people either. It has to be the right move or else it's just a whole lot of noise that, while loud, means nothing at all.

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