Raiders waste no time throwing Rodgers-Cromartie into action
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie waited the entire offseason and most of August for the right opportunity to sign with an NFL team.
Then almost as soon as he did, he was thrown right into the action. Rodgers-Cromartie signed with the Oakland Raiders last Thursday as a late addition providing depth in the secondary and was immediately put on the field for nine snaps the following night in an exhibition game against Green Bay.
“That was a big surprise to me,” Rodgers-Cromartie said Monday. “But it felt good to be out there and run around and get back into the game.”
Rodgers-Cromartie had been waiting for that chance ever since getting cut by the New York Giants in March. He talked with several teams and visited four but didn’t sign a deal until the Raiders called last week.
The market wasn’t strong for a 32-year-old who lost his starting job last year and was suspended for one game by the Giants for an unexcused absence.
“You just have to wait,” he said. “‘It’s frustrating because I still feel I have ability to go and be out there. It’s frustrating. But you have to understand. Being an older guy, teams are looking to go younger. You just have to wait.”
Rodgers-Cromartie is doing his best to get up to speed quickly. He said he was only asked to play man coverage in his brief stint against the Packers and is trying to learn the language of coordinator Paul Guenther’s defense.
Rodgers-Cromartie said he’s leaning heavily on former Giants teammate Leon Hall, who has been with the Raiders this entire offseason and also played for Guenther in Cincinnati.
Rodgers-Cromartie has been a productive player in his career with 30 interceptions and 144 passes defensed in 153 career games for Arizona, Philadelphia, Denver and the Giants.
He can play multiple spots in the secondary, although he said he’s more comfortable at cornerback than safety right now because he is still learning the new defense.
“That’s what I love about the acquisition,” coach Jon Gruden said of his versatility. “I think he’s a corner. I think he’s a guy that can play the nickel because he’s played the nickel. You can put him in there in a dime position. He can play deep. He’s played in every defense known to man and he can still run. He has size and length. Right now he’s mastering our defense. We’ll try to get a few snaps, hopefully, from him at Seattle and see what happens.”
While the Raiders brought Rodgers-Cromartie in just before the start of the season, they made several other moves Monday starting with a trade that dealt receiver Ryan Switzer and a 2019 sixth-round draft pick to Pittsburgh for a fifth-round pick next year.
Oakland had acquired Switzer during the draft in a deal with Dallas for 2016 second-round pick Jihad Ward. The Raiders had high hopes for Switzer but Dwayne Harris beat him out as the returner and reserve receiver.
“He’s a capable guy coming in there in the slot,” Gruden said. “He can go outside. He showed some separation when he did play the other night. Had a good return called back. He’s a versatile player. We can hand him the ball. We can do a lot of things with him. He’s tough. He was just hurt last year. That was why you didn’t hear from him.”
One player who still isn’t with the team is star pass rusher Khalil Mack, who has been holding out all year as he seeks a long-term contract. Mack skipped the entire offseason program, training camp and now will miss the entire exhibition season.
Whether he reports before the start of the season in two weeks remains to be seen.
“I don’t want to put any timetable on it,” Gruden said. “This has obviously been a long a process that has been grueling for both parties and fans and me personally. We’re just hoping we can get him in here.”