The NY Jets will have quite a number of difficult decisions to make this offseason regarding their pending free agents. However, one of those difficult decisions likely won’t be with outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins.
A third-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Jenkins is the longest-tenured player on the roster. In fact, he’s one of just three homegrown players since the 2013 draft class to receive a second contract after Brian Winters and Quincy Enunwa.
As sad of a fact as that may be, it is proof of Jenkins’ longevity. But now set to hit free agency for the second year in a row, will the Jets be able to bring him back on a similar deal to the cheap one-year, $3.75 million contract he signed a year ago?
Don’t count on it.
What is Jordan Jenkins’ market value?
Jenkins struggled to make much of an impact in 2020 recording just two sacks in 12 games despite tallying 15 over the previous two years. Injuries definitely played a factor as even when on the field, Jenkins was battling various ailments.
And in his defense, he actually finished with the best Pro Football Focus grade since his rookie season scoring a 69.4 grade that ranked 36th out of all edge defenders. His very solid 74.7 run-defense rating (15th at his position) was the primary cause of this.
That said, after seeing his numbers decrease after signing a meager $3.75 million contract last offseason, it’s hard to see him having a sizable market this time around.
The 26-year-old is a scheme-dependent (more on that in a moment) 3-4 outside linebacker with little coverage ability and an underdeveloped pass-rush skill set. And up until 2020, he was a bit overrated as a run-defender as well.
Look for his market to be similar to what it was last year, perhaps with another team willing to give him a cheap two-year deal (maybe up to $5 million per season) with little guaranteed money.
Should the NY Jets re-sign Jordan Jenkins?
If the Jets were remaining in a base 3-4 defense, this would be a legitimate discussion to have. After all, Jenkins is an excellent locker room leader who is, believe it or not, one of the veterans on the roster.
He was a very solid run-defender in 2020 and while below-average as a pass-rusher, has shown the ability to rack up his fair share of sacks in the past. And no one could ever question his motor or work ethic.
That said, there just isn’t a role for him in Robert Saleh’s defense.
Jenkins isn’t athletic enough to play as an off-ball linebacker in Saleh’s scheme. You could make the argument that he could play the SAM role, but he just doesn’t have the athleticism or coverage ability needed to play off-ball linebacker in today’s NFL.
His best bet would be transitioning to a five-technique defensive end role, but that’s a position he hasn’t played since high school. The Jets are probably better off looking elsewhere in free agency.
Will the NY Jets re-sign Jordan Jenkins?
It’s hard to see the Jets making Jenkins a priority this offseason, especially after they nearly moved on a year ago. The production wasn’t there in 2020 and he doesn’t fit the new scheme.
The Jets will be in the market for true five-technique defensive ends that could bend the edge and possess ample athleticism. Those are the players that fit in Saleh’s defense — not a player like Jenkins who is more known for his edge-setting ability.
Jenkins will likely sign on with a new team in free agency, one in which his skill set could be better utilized. Ideally, he’d fill a similar role to the one he’s filled with the Jets through the first five years of his career.
Keep an eye on the New York Giants, who made a run at him last offseason. But by the looks of things, it’s safe to say his time with the Jets is over.
Odds of re-signing: 10 percent