Who is the best Cardinals cornerback tandem of the Steve Keim era?
Arizona Cardinals standouts Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie formed one of the NFL’s best cornerback duos back in 2014.
Far too often over the past eight seasons, the Arizona Cardinals defensive unit has had to live with a lack of quality at the number-two cornerback position.
Steve Keim, the Cardinals‘ general manager since 2013, has had somewhat of a blind spot when it comes to finding capable cover guys who could hold their own in the team’s secondary.
There was one particular offseason, however, when Keim found a corner for Arizona who could complement the sensational Patrick Peterson quite nicely.
Arizona Cardinals struck gold with free-agent cornerback Antonio Cromartie
In March of 2014, Keim and the Cards acquired one of the biggest bargains of that year’s free-agent signing period. Antonio Cromartie, fresh off of two Pro Bowl appearances with the New York Jets, was lured to the desert on a one-year deal.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Cromartie would be combining with the 6-foot-1, 203-pound Peterson to form one of the biggest cornerback duos in professional football at that point.
Arizona’s defensive coordinator at the time, Todd Bowles, must have been thrilled. Suddenly, finding open pass-catchers became a huge problem for opposing quarterbacks. With Peterson on one side and Cromartie on the other, the opposition’s offensive play-callers basically had to pick their poison when it came to executing their passing attack.
Not surprisingly, both players went on to have Pro Bowl campaigns. Peterson racked up 50 tackles, three interceptions (including one pick-six), and seven pass breakups. Meanwhile, Cromartie totaled 49 tackles, three picks, 10 pass breakups, and a fumble return for a touchdown during a victory over the St. Louis Rams.
Unfortunately for the Cards, the Peterson-Cromartie tandem would be together for just one season. “Cro” parlayed his impressive performance with the Redbirds into a new four-year, $32 million contract with the Jets.
The decision to let the veteran walk was apparently the right one for Arizona, however, considering the fact that a suddenly ineffective Cromartie was released just one season into his second stint with New York.
Having two top-tier starters at the cornerback spot makes all of the difference in the world for an NFL defense. The sooner that Keim realizes that, the better it will be for the Cardinals’ Super Bowl aspirations.