When the Minnesota Vikings released wide receiver Michael Jenkins at the start of free agency, it wasn’t expected that there would be a significant market for the 30-year-old pass-catcher.
Well color me surprised, because the New England Patriots have signed “Molasses Mike,” who garnered almost no known interest in the three weeks between his release and now. Likely a one-year deal at the veteran minimum, this new contract for Jenkins is anything but a guarantee.
Signed in 2010 by the Vikings to add a veteran presence to their passing game, Jenkins immediately showed the signs of aging that made the Atlanta Falcons willing to let him walk. With zero presence as a vertical threat, Jenkins was forced to rely on route running, consistent hands and veteran savvy to make plays. His lack of speed, however, was often too much for the Vikings offense to overcome.
One positive aspect to this signing for the Patriots is Jenkins’ ability as a blocker. One of the better blocking wide receivers in the NFL, Jenkins should be able to raise his stock as a contributor in the running game.
More than anything, the Patriots brought in Jenkins to provide depth as their wide receiver corps goes through a bit of a transition period. He’s an experienced pro who can produce (40 catches, 499 yards, two touchdowns last season), but his rate of production is dropping exponentially.
At this point in his career, Jenkins is far from a lock to make the Patriots’ 53-man roster. He’ll have the opportunity during training camp and the preseason to prove that he’s worth keeping around, though.
It’s a bit of a head-scratcher for the Patriots. Then again, Tom Brady might just be able to work some magic with “Molasses Mike.”