Former New York Jets defensive lineman Kris Jenkins is a free agent now, after the Jets cut him for cap reasons last month. There is still a chance that that Jenkins could conceivably return for a fourth year in Green and White, but the chances of that are slim.
Last week, Jenkins talked about how his concern for his joints, his surgically repaired knees especially, may be a big factor in deciding where he ends up next year as he tries to recover from a second straight ACL surgery. His concerns about the artificial turf at New Meadowlands Stadium may prevent him from returning to the Jets.
However, outspoken linebacker Bart Scott told Rod Boone of Newsday that he still thinks there’s a place on the Jets defense for the big defensive lineman. He even went as far to say that a healthy Jenkins could’ve meant two straight Super Bowl championships for the Jets.
“Of course there’s a role,” Scott told Boone. “I think if Kris Jenkins was in that lineup the last two years, I think we may be sitting here as back-to-back Super Bowl champions. He is a guy in that front seven that you have to account for. Bo [Sione Pouha] did a tremendous job, but he can’t demand the same respect and the same attention that Kris Jenkins does.
It’s an argument that holds a lot of weight, in my opinion. Jenkins was an unstoppable force in his Jets tenure, and both times he was injured were on freak plays. The Jets did a fantastic job rallying without him, but there’s no denying how much better that defense could’ve been with the big man in the middle.
“You have to account for him and you have to know where he is every time because he can literally take two men and beat them – not hold two men off the linebacker,” Scott said. “He can beat two men and it’s just unfortunate that [getting injured] has been his reality the last two years. The key now is he may have to wear that brace and he may have to lighten the load.”
Jenkins worked his butt off to get back in shape after his injury in 2009, losing over 40 pounds and showing up to training camp in 2010 at a svelte 359 pounds. He re-injured the same left knee in Week 1 against the Ravens in the same exact fashion as the year before, when a teammate was blocked into him from behind and he got tangled up awkwardly.
But Bart Scott raved about how much left in the tank the 31-year-old still has, considering his body hasn’t taken the pounding of a full NFL season the past two seasons.
“Of course he has a lot left,” Scott said. “It was never a question about his talents and what he can do on the football field. It’s just unfortunate that he’s had devastating injuries two years in a row. But hopefully those days are behind him. He can rehab and make those things stronger. I think he just needs to get a healthy year underneath his belt, and he’ll be right back where people expeced him to be all along.
“Men that size, they are rare and they are really a commodity when you have one. Big men like those — Grady Jackson, Gilbert Brown — those guys can play forever. They are space guzzlers. But what makes him unique is he’s athletic with it. I tell people there’s only four guys in the league that’s built and has the same talents as Kris Jenkins, and that’s [Shaun] Rodgers, Haloti Ngata and Albert Haynesworth.
“Everybody else is either a big space guzzler or a smaller, undersized slashing guy like a [Brodrick] Bunkley or a [Chris] Canty. Then you have the Casey Hamptons, the Vince Wilforks — the big space eaters. But there are not too many guys that have the ability of those four guys. That’s what makes them so special.”
Scott may very well be right, but Jenkins’ concerns about the FieldTurf may be too big a factor for him to ignore. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’d LOVE to see Jenkins make his latest comeback in a Jets uniform for Rex Ryan, and evidently so would Bart Scott.
Anything can happen, obviously. Perhaps Scott will do a little bit of recruiting once the CBA mess is over with and free agency begins. We’ll see what happens.