NY Jets: Will the Jets re-sign or decline Jordan Jenkins?

NY Jets (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The NY Jets have seen Jordan Jenkins develop into a quality edge rusher over the past few years. But with him set to hit free agency, will the team re-sign him?

The NY Jets will have a few very important decisions to make in the offseason regarding their internal free agents. And perhaps one of the most important will be their decision with outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins.

Jenkins was originally drafted by the Jets in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft and he was immediately thrust into a starting role. After a slow first two seasons in which he managed just 5.5 total sacks, Jenkins broke out in his third NFL campaign.

The Georgia product totaled a career-high seven sacks in 2018 while also finishing with 15 QB hits — also a career-best. He followed that up with another solid 2019 season in which he finished with eight sacks — another career-high which was good for the team best.

Despite the higher sack totals, Jenkins’ numbers may be a little misleading. His Pro Football Focus grade was a solid 66.9 which is nothing special, but also around league average. Jenkins’ pass rush is improved, but he still struggles at times while setting the edge.

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He isn’t a top-tier edge rusher, but he’s a valuable player who should command a decent amount of money on the open market.

With that, does that mean the Jets will be able to bring him back?

What is his market value?

Jets fans underestimating Jenkins’ projected market value should think again. He’s going to get paid, whether it’s by the Jets or another team.

He has 15 sacks over the last two seasons and has shown versatility as a drop-back coverage linebacker, a run defender on the edge, and as a pass rusher. Throw in the fact that he’s only 25-years-old and you have a young edge rusher who is going to make bank in the offseason.

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For reference sake, the Green Bay Packers paid Preston Smith four years, $52 million last offseason. Smith was similarly 26-years-old at the time and had alternated between eight sacks and four sacks in his four NFL seasons.

Both are versatile outside linebackers who were asked to do a lot with their respective teams, but Jenkins is younger and has had better sack production in recent seasons. Jenkins is coming off his best season (eight sacks) while Smith was coming off his worst (four sacks).

Expect Jenkins to command even more than his adversary on the open market.

Perhaps a four-year, $60 million contract is reasonable. That’s a steep price to pay for a solid complementary edge rusher, but it’s what it will take to get it done.

Should the Jets re-sign him?

There’s little argument that the Jets are a better team with Jordan Jenkins in the starting lineup. The only question is whether or not he’s worth the hefty price tag.

Jenkins is a dependable, effective pass rusher with a high motor and excellent work ethic. Young edge rushers with Jenkins’ skillset don’t grow on trees and it would be very difficult to replace his production if the Jets were to let him walk.

That said, they must consider their alternatives.

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If the team could use some of that money to instead sign a player like Yannick Ngakoue, then it might be worth it to pay extra for a pretty significant upgrade.

If not, Jenkins is a reliable option who continues to improve as a player. The Jets could do a lot worse than bringing back Jenkins for another four years.

Will the Jets re-sign him?

There’s no question that the Jets want to re-sign Jenkins. The Houston-born outside linebacker is a key cog in their defense and, once again, replacing him would be no easy task.

But everything comes down to finances.

The Jets also need to re-sign nickel cornerback Brian Poole and could look to bring back players such as Kelvin Beachum or Alex Lewis. Not to mention the upgrades they’d like to make at other positions in free agency.

Jenkins should be a priority, but he won’t be the team’s top priority.

Still, the safe bet is on the Jets doing everything they can to retain Jenkins even if they have to open their checkbooks. The Jets know Jenkins’ value and they understand the price for a player of his caliber.

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Expect Jordan Jenkins to be back with the Jets in 2020, but it’s far from a sure thing.

Odds of re-signing: 60%