Vet Corner Says Rookie Signal-Caller Showed All Signs Of Being Jets' Man For Years

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As far as Antonio Cromartie is concerned, Jets general manager John Idzik should not be putting too much effort into looking for a quarterback this offseason.

That’s because Cromartie sees Geno Smith as the present and future of the franchise.

“I honestly think he is. I think just the way he handles himself, he handled himself as a true professional when he’s in the office,” Cromartie said. “He’s in early in the morning – 5:30, 5:45 in the morning – he doesn’t leave until 7 at night; trying to understand defenses and understand where he needs to get better at.”

Smith played his best football down the stretch, leading the rebuilding Jets to three wins in their final four games on their way to a very surprising 8-8 season. Smith committed 25 turnovers overall, including throwing 21 interceptions, during his rookie season, but over his last four games he had four touchdown passes and just two picks while completing 59 percent of his passes.

“We could have won three other games in the conference during the season that we feel like we should have won with him being our quarterback but we didn’t,” Cromartie said. “We finished the season at 8-8 with him and we feel that we can grow with him.”

For the season, Smith threw for 3,048 yards and completed 56 percent of his throws. He had only 12 TD passes, but added another 366 yards and six TDs on the ground.

Idzik’s top chore this offseason will be getting Smith some talent to work with. The Jets’ leading receiver, Jeremy Kerley, had just 43 catches for 523 yards. Their next best pass catchers were David Nelson, who was not signed until Week 5, and Bilal Powell, who is a situational running back, with 36 receptions apiece.

Both Kerley and Nelson figure to play big roles in 2014, but the Jets will likely try to sign at least one top free agent receiver, assuming Santonio Holmes is cut, as expected. Idzik will reportedly have more than $40 million in salary cap space, and could have up to 12 draft picks, to work with.

There has been speculation the Jets could target another quarterback in the draft, but consider they pick 18th in the first round it might make more sense to search for a veteran quarterback, either through free agency or via trade, that can push Smith and be ready to step in at a moment’s notice should the sophomore QB falter.

Top free agent QBs on the market include Josh McCown, Michael Vick and Matt Flynn.

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