Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is back in the NFL, and he’s not passing up on the Redskins a second time.
The veteran defensive back signed a contract Friday afternoon at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park, a week after the NFL officially reinstated him from the retirement list last week. The Redskins were quick to inquire on him, and this time he agreed to a deal.
“I really wasn’t done, to be honest,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “I just had a lot of emotions [last year]. At the end of the day, I know I still have a lot in the tank, you know, make sure I maximize that.”
As a free agent last offseason, Rodgers-Cromartie made his first visit to Washington, an opportunity he told Redskins.com he should have taken at the time. After passing on a couple of other offers, he didn’t get another until late in August from the Oakland Raiders.
He played seven games there before announcing his retirement after Week 8, a decision made for a variety of reasons.
“Just coming in late with the team, it’s hard to earn anyone’s respect,” he said. “Me being a late signing you already have your system put together, you have your guys all together and you just go and bring a guy right off the streets, it was hard for me to get acclimated.
“I just had a lot going on,” he said, adding that his grandmother was also undergoing heart surgery around the same time. “[Now] I can just start fresh, and focus in on the opportunity. I’m definitely going to take advantage of it.”
Rodgers-Cromartie clarified he didn’t want to waste a roster spot for younger players who needed to get special teams reps, and retirement felt like the right decision during an emotionally volatile time. Not long after he hung up his cleats, he knew ultimately he’d be back.
“Right after I left,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “I was just sitting home watching games every Sunday like ‘God,’ just the feeling, man, it never left me, you know, I just was at that time where I had to take time for myself and just doing it that way, you know the universe is crazy, it always has a way of working itself out.”
He called his agent this past winter and told him he was ready to return to the league and to start looking for suitors.
“Looking at the market, I was like man, listen, I was watching the games last year and was like, ‘teams still need corners,’ you know? I know I still have a lot left, and I was like, ‘put it out there, man,’ I still want to play, I still have a lot to play, if someone gives me the opportunity, man, jump on it.’”
Rodgers-Cromartie knows about the Redskins’ defense from watching games last season, and he’s particularly excited to have his former Giants teammate Landon Collins patrolling the secondary in Washington.
“That’s a great signing and I think he’s really going to help the defense,” he said. “I mean, even watching the defense last year, even though it was hit with injuries, for the most part, they are really solid.”
Now on his sixth team in his career, Rodger-Cromartie is eager to play wherever he’s asked and show he remains in strong physical shape, thanks to his continued workouts in Tampa, Fla., where he calls home.
“I know I still have all my speed and all my abilities, I haven’t declined, I haven’t ‘lost a step,’ I can still run with anybody,” he said. “Wherever they put me at, I can make it work, that’s why I wanted to get in here early and start when OTA’s start and see my grind and see that I’m for real.”
Redskins fans may best remember Rodgers-Cromartie from a couple seasons ago, when his fourth-quarter interception of Kirk Cousins on a pass over the middle effectively kicked Washington out of the playoffs. The Giants had already clinched the division and had allowed most starters to sit out. Except Rodgers-Cromartie.
“The coaches took most of the starters out but [Ben McAdoo] kept me in,” Rodgers-Cromartie recalled. “I was like ‘woah,’ and in my head I was kind of like I was a little mad: ‘Coach has me out here but everyone else is sitting out? Alright, I’m going to make the most of it then.’”
Now, he’ll attempt to do the same wearing burgundy and gold.