Rodgers-Cromartie may retire after Super Bowl

"I had a lot of plays to make last year in Philly, and I didn't make the opportunities. I made the most of them this year," said Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
"I had a lot of plays to make last year in Philly, and I didn't make the opportunities. I made the most of them this year," said Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. (Colorado Springs Gazette)
Posted: January 29, 2014

JERSEY CITY, N.J. - Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie may retire from football if the Denver Broncos win Sunday's Super Bowl.

In Philadelphia, Eagles fans are joking, "Didn't he retire two years ago?"

But the former Eagles cornerback wasn't kidding about calling it quits even though he's coming off arguably the best season of his career, is still only 27 years old and will likely have multiple suitors when he hits free agency in March.

"Coming out of college I gave myself a five-year goal," Rodgers-Cromartie said Monday. "If I could just make it to five years, I'd be alright coming from a small school. And fortunately, I've been playing six. It's been a long journey. You know, just weighing my options."

Last offseason, Rodgers-Cromartie wasn't sought after. The Eagles opted not to re-sign him after two disappointing seasons and the best he could do in free agency was a one-year deal from the Broncos for $5 million.

Despite the moderate expectations his deal suggested, Rodgers-Cromartie was thrust into a starting role when veteran Champ Bailey was sidelined with a foot injury. And he performed the way the Eagles thought he would for them when they traded quarterback Kevin Kolb to the Cardinals in exchange for him and a second-round draft pick.

The fact that the Broncos' successful season seemed to elevate his play, while he struggled when the Eagles spiraled to a 4-12 record in 2012, suggested that he underperformed when the going got rough.

"In Philly, when it was bad it was just bad from an overall standpoint," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "We had our highs and lows, but it's not just one guy that can turn it around. It was just bad timing. I don't think about it all that much. We're doing well now. I'm playing well now. I'm just trying to finish."

Even when Bailey returned, Rodgers-Cromartie remained on the first team. Chris Harris, who had played opposite him for most of the season, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee against the Chargers in the divisional round of the playoffs, so it will be Rodgers-Cromartie and Bailey at cornerback against the Seahawks.

Unlike Bailey, who needed 15 years before he reached a Super Bowl, Rodgers-Cromartie has been on this stage before. As a rookie he played on the Arizona team that was a Santonio Holmes touchdown catch away from winning.

"I was young. I was still grappling [with] the concept of just being in the NFL, just happy-go-lucky," said Rodgers-Cromatie, who was drafted in the first round out of Tennessee State. "Now, being a little older, I turn my mind back and understand that we're here to play a game and after we get a victory can really enjoy it."

The Cardinals took a nose dive after their title run fell short and Rodgers-Cromartie was the odd man out after Patrick Peterson was drafted. The Eagles penciled him in as their starting right corner for all of several hours after the trade and before they signed Nnamdi Asomugha.

With Asante Samuel already on the left and Asomugha on board, Rodgers-Cromartie played out of position and in the slot. Samuel was dealt before the 2012 season and he was moved back outside, but after a steady start, Rodgers-Cromartie's play went downhill along with the Eagles.

He missed 11 tackles last year, for instance. He missed only five this season, according to Pro Football Focus.

"I look at it from an overall standpoint," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "Philly brought in a lot of different guys, trying to jell them together and it just didn't work well. From my standpoint, it was just a learning experience and I felt it made me better as a player going through adversity."


jmclane@phillynews.com

@Jeff_McLane

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