The New York Giants released cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to save $6.5 million on the salary cap, a move likely linked to a new general manager that runs a tight ship. Rodgers-Cromartie was suspended for a week by the Giants last season after he left the facilities after a dispute with the coaching staff.
The nearly 32-year-old cornerback is still a quality player, named to the Pro Bowl in 2015 and All Pro in 2016, but a dysfunctional season by the Giants led to a coaching and front office change in New York.
And the New England Patriots are the perfect team to pounce.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick likes to take advantage of new head coaches and new regimes by taking quality players that don’t align with the new leadership for a cheap deal. Rodgers-Cromartie won’t be a trade target, but he’s available for the same reason- the new Giants leadership didn’t want him.
Rodgers-Cromartie is a sound tackler that plays both outside and in the slot, similar to how the Patriots used Logan Ryan in 2015 and 2016. New England missed having a player on the roster like that in 2017 since they couldn’t trust Malcolm Butler to move into the slot, while Stephon Gilmore provided more value against “prototypical” #1 receivers on the outside.
With Butler unlikely to return, there remains a clear need to find a player that can pair with Gilmore. Eric Rowe is technically capable of playing inside and outside, but he hasn’t been able to secure a starting job. Cyrus Jones and Jonathan Jones will both be returning from injury.
Rodgers-Cromartie would be an excellent fit to play with Gilmore for 2018 and would allow the Patriots to still draft a cornerback early on to eventually take over in 2019 or 2020.