Cullen Jenkins signing key for resurgence of New York Giants' defense

By Thomas Emerick
Cullen Jenkins
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants‘ eagerness to add defensive line talent is well-documented, and they didn’t wait long to sign defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins to a reported three-year, $8 million deal with $3 million guaranteed according to NFL Network’s Kimberly Jones. General manager Jerry Reese has just added one of the better players from an NFC East rival — and more importantly — covered a sinkhole in New York’s typically stout defensive line.

Big Blue figures to pair Jenkins with defensive tackle Linval Joseph, who continues to far outperform his rookie contract. New York hopes this will provide a major upgrade on recently-cut tackle Chris Canty.

Behind Linval the defensive interior was falling into dire straits. Rocky Bernard seems likely to walk and if he did return it wouldn’t solve much. Shaun Rogers remains a big name but hasn’t played a regular-season snap in two years.

There are no other proven starters at the position on roster.

While defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has long been inclined to place three to four nominal defense ends on the field simultaneously, the defensive tackle spot needed one more key cog. Jenkins provides just that despite the Philadelphia Eagles‘ decision to part ways prior to the NFL signing and trading period — which allowed New York to pick him up before the free-agency period kicks off in earnest Tuesday at 4 p.m. E.T.

Jenkins suffered a down year in 2012 but still registered Pro Football Focus’ 11th-ranked pass-rush grade among defensive tackles. Prior to his two-year stint in Philly, Jenkins played a crucial role as a starter on the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers.

The Giants now hope defensive end Justin Tuck, who often slides inside on passing downs, reverses his injury-plagued decline and New York’s line returns to elite form.

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