A year ago the New York Giants made a big splash in the free-agent market, with the biggest splash being the signing of cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Let's look back at DRC's 2014 and ahead to 2015 as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp.
2014 Season in Review
Rodgers-Cromartie's first year in New York after signing a five-year, $35 million contract ($13.98 million guaranteed) didn't exactly go as planned, but we learned some positive things about a player whose commitment has sometimes been questioned.
The most impressive number on DRC's 2014 resume is 16. During a season in which his fellow corners were all falling by the wayside due to injuries, Rodgers-Cromartie battled a series of maladies including what was called an IT Band issue and still managed to play in all 16 games. He was in and out of the lineup during many of those games, and perhaps not as effective as he might have been were he completely healthy, but he was there. In a season that went south quickly for the Giants, DRC's willingness to remain in the lineup despite being less than his best showed some toughness many probably didn't think he had.
Despite the limits his leg injuries placed on him, DRC has a relatively good year. He finished with a +7.8 Pro Football Focus grade (+7.1 in pass coverage), making him the 17th-ranked corner in the league, per Pro Football Focus. He played well, but probably not as well as he could have with two healthy legs.
2015 Season Outlook
Looking ahead to 2015 for Rodgers-Cromartie, the first thing you have to do is ask a question. How will the fact that his good friend Antrel Rolle, a player instrumental in recruiting him to sign with the Giants, is now a member of the Chicago Bears impact DRC?
"That's always hard. Definitely a guy like Antrel, first coming in taking me under his wing and did a lot for me. Just coming over here and having meetings with me," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "Life goes on and it hurt a little bit but at this point you just have to get it out of your system."
Rodgers-Cromartie's game has always been about having the speed and athleticism to run with any wide receiver and to be able to close when the ball is in the air. At 29, Rodgers-Cromartie spent the offseason bulking up, adding a full 18 pounds to his 6-foot-2 frame. He now weighs 208 pounds, the heaviest he has been during his career.
"I know Spags' mentality. He want you to get your hands on people," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "So I had to bulk up a little bit, you know what I mean ... That's the Spags mentality. Every chance you get, in seems in every defense you have an opportunity to [use] press [coverage], he wants you up to press.
"There is definitely going to be a lot more press."
Judging from what we saw during the spring, Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara are likely to stay on their respective sides rather than be assigned receivers to chase all over the field. DRC, like most of the other cornerbacks who have commented on the scheme installed by defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, likes what the corners are being asked to do.
"His whole concept and the things that he allows us to do...I feel great with," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "I would say this defense ... some of the things they do here are things that are a whole lot more conducive things that really plays to our corners that we have skill sets."
Let's hope Rodgers-Cromartie is healthy enough in 2015 to take advantage of those things.