Would you want Antonio Cromartie in a Green Bay Packer uniform?

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By Jake McCormick

Last year, Green Bay Packer GM Ted Thompson did the unthinkable: He traded up in the NFL draft, which led to the selection of linebacker Clay Matthews.

After bucking his normal trend of trading down in the draft and stockpiling late round projects, Thompson hit a whopper of a home run with Matthews. A season after he threw his first draft curveball, it would only be appropriate to add a changeup to his repertoire, although Packers fans might have to stop dreaming at some point.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen mentioned that the Packers might be a team in the market for the services of San Diego Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie. The Chargers are mainly shopping him for a running back, so Green Bay would have to give up a draft pick or two to satisfy San Diego’s demands.

Although there is probably a better chance of cheerleading becoming a sanctioned Olympic sport than Thompson trading a Day 1 pick for a player, Packer management is tight lipped enough that it’s impossible to write off anything completely. Thompson has to go through his oft-heard about “vetting process” and weigh the positives and negatives of swapping a pick for a player of Cromartie’s caliber.

Assuming for a second that this is a possibility, there are pluses and minuses to weigh when it comes to a player (and person) like Cromartie:

Pros:
Cromartie provides an immediate upgrade at a position with less depth than a Playskool kiddie pool. Al Harris and Charles Woodson are both over 30 and counting, and bringing in an impact player like Cromartie can help ease Harris’ return and sustainability on the field. It would also give some of the younger cornerbacks and incoming draft picks some time to sharpen their skills against a team’s fourth wideout.

Assuming the Packers would have to give up a first or second round pick for him, whatever player selected in those slots would have a much steeper learning curve than Cromartie, who already has three years experience in a 3-4 system. Coming off an 11-5 season, the Packers are a team in position to win now as well as in the future, and since Cromartie is 24 years old, he could be a viable answer in the short and long term.

Cromartie is an exceptional athlete who possesses a Charles Woodson-like skill set in a bigger body. Although Cromartie has six combined interceptions after his 10 picks in 2007, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s a less effective cornerback. He would also give the Packers three ballhawks in the secondary, which benefits the Packers pass rush that was mostly Clay Matthews in 2009.

Cons:
Cromartie has the libido of Tiger Woods, without the fake image, tabloid-friendly family pictures, or prophylactics. No doubt Cromartie could bring his character issues and paternity suits to northern Wisconsin, but the Packers are historically a no-BS organization, and have been able to harness young and talented, yet troublesome, players. This could perhaps be the biggest thing working against Cromartie in any trade scenario.

Green Bay has needs in the following areas: Offensive line, secondary, and pass rushing lineman/linebacker, the most pressing of which is the aging and unproven offensive front. If this deal falls into the Packers laps, the O-line issues would be another reason Thompson prefers to stick with their early picks.

I think trading a draft pick or two for Cromartie would be worth the risk of him doubling the population of Mishicot, especially since the Packer faithful would embrace any free agent/trade impact move at the hands of Ted Thompson, seeing as his first round picks haven’t always been his best. That positive fan reaction could also be a good thing for Cromartie’s character issues. Now back to reality (it’s always nice to dream, isn’t it?).

History tells us that a Packers trade for someone like Antonio Cromartie would have to be on the condition that he checks his ego at the door, and right now I’m not sure that fear can be alleviated. But does anyone else think it’s worth the risk?

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