New York Jets – Jenkins out, Johnson in

Nikki Charlesworth on New York Jets new DL Anthony Johnson

As part of a series of transactions this week, the New York Jets released DE Jarvis Jenkins and added Anthony Johnson from the Patriots’ practice squad.

The Jets added Jenkins in the 2016 offseason on a 2 year, $6 million contract with $3 million guaranteed (his first year’s salary including a pro-rated signing bonus of $750,000); effectively a one year commitment in terms of cash. After bouncing around a few teams in his six year career, Jenkins seemed the type of guy Mike Maccagnan likes to find. He described him as a ‘starting calibre’ player, who had not yet reached his potential. It was hoped he could be a high quality back up and play a key part in the d-line rotation.  However, Jenkins’ performance in Green and White through the first nine weeks of the season was not enough return on the investment and to continue to justify a roster spot. He played only 115 defensive snaps in nine games, registering only 10 tackles and no sacks. He started in week nine against the Dolphins, due to Mo Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson sitting out the first half for having missed and arrived late to team meetings, but had minimal impact.

The time at which Jenkins signed may give some clues about why his involvement has been more limited than the price tag might have suggested. When he was picked up, the team were in need of some veteran depth on the defensive line as Mo Wilkerson’s situation was up in the air and Damon Harrison and Leger Douzable had just departed. It certainly made sense at the time to add someone with experience to offset the loss of Snacks.  Once Wilkerson’s contract was extended, the need diminished, but having guaranteed $3 million to grab Jenkins in the first place, they wanted to keep him around to try to get some return.

With the money effectively written off as an unfortunate but unreturnable loss, the decision to release Jenkins at point in the year, aside from his limited impact, may be linked to compensatory picks.  The Jets had hoped to gain more from losing some key free agents (including Harrison) in the offseason, but their additions (including Jenkins) appeared to offset this. Releasing Jenkins may remove him as a qualifying gain but there are no guarantees here. At this point, it was probably worth giving up on Jenkins, in the hope the team can get something back in future, depending on the formula.

Aside from this, Jenkins, with his 10-20 average snaps a game, was a veteran taking up precious roster space which could be better used for developing talented, younger players.  The addition of Anthony Johnson in his place certainly suggests that the Jets are thinking like this too.  Johnson went undrafted in 2014 out of LSU and is in his third year in the league.  He spent the early part of this season bouncing between the Patriots’ active roster and practice squad, initially making the roster despite stiff competition at this position in New England. He hasn’t seen much playing time, combining for 8 total tackles in four games (starting one), but flashed enough during the offseason to keep the Patriots’ interest. Johnson isn’t going to come in and set the world on fire but he can be added to the ‘for the future’ list of d-line men the Jets want to accumulate. Todd Bowles said that the Jets had been interested in Johnson for a while, ‘keeping an eye on him’. With the season effectively gone at this point, building for the future must be a key priority going forward.

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