Janoris Jenkins, Not Olivier Vernon, Is Big Blue’s Biggest Offseason Gamble And It Won’t Pay Off
While Olivier Vernon’s $85 million contract with a lucrative $52.5 million guaranteed has expectedly caused ripples around the NFL, it is Janoris Jenkins’ ridiculous $62.5 million contract, with a whopping $28.8 million guaranteed that demands speculation.
The pervading belief for the New York Giants coming into the 2016 offseason was that their defense would need to be upgraded. They did so in unprecedented fashion, extending their checkbooks to three of the most high-end free agents on the market, all within a week of the start of free agency. Money talked and all three are now Giants, immediately improving a depleted defense.
The common thought in free agency was that the market dictates what must be dispensed to land any player, especially top-notch players. Jenkins was undoubtedly a hot commodity this year, but his former team, the Rams, were not exactly adamant about engaging in the lucrative contract talks, and their other corner, Trumaine Johnson, is a young, promising player who was said to be the top corner on that team.
With the money the Giants dished out, they hope to get a durable player who will be an immediate upgrade over what now amounts to another lost draft pick in Prince Amukamara. And while it’s true that Jenkins has been more durable than Prince, and has shown a propensity for making plays on the defensive side, the Jenkins investment might turn into the one the Giants regret the most once the regular season starts.
When looking at the numbers comparing Johnson and Jenkins, there is a clear discrepancy between the two. The Rams felt comfortable in letting Jenkins walk and securing Trumaine Johnson, and their play on the field has a lot to do with it. According to Pro Football Focus, Johnson has surrendered only 2 touchdowns since 2014, while Jenkins has surrendered six, and has registered 10 interceptions, compared to 4 for Jenkins in the same span.
Janoris has shown a propensity for big plays in the defensive backfield, as evidenced by his 5 interceptions returned for touchdowns in his career. But, he has also shown to be a liability in coverage, often risking a big play for adequate coverage. The opposing quarterback’s career passer rating against Jenkins is 99.5, whereas Johnson boasts a measly 67.1, which according to PFF is lower than other young talented cornerbacks Josh Norman and Stephon Gilmore.
Time will tell if Janoris Jenkins can justify his astronomical contract numbers; he is currently guaranteed $28.8 million from the Giants, the 3rd most in the league behind only Darrelle Revis and the newly signed Josh Norman. His production in St. Louis was inconsistent to say the least and he has shown to be liable in coverage down the field.
Will he earn his money and meet the expectations of his contract? I do not believe so. Darrelle Revis has been called one of the greatest of all-time and Josh Norman is coming off an impressive All-Pro campaign; Jenkins, on the other hand, has yet to make a Pro Bowl.
More from GMEN HQ
- Workout clip of Evan Neal training with former All-Pro OT has Giants fans excited
- NFL Draft Schedule of Events: How to Navigate Draft Weekend
- 4 NY Giants who must step their game up in 2023
- This SEC CB at No. 25 overall for the Giants is gaining steam
- When is the NFL Draft?
The Giants could have re-signed Prince Amukamara to a modest one year deal and still have money left over to sign one or two other defensive backs, while also saving their first round draft pick in the process. Jerry Reese has said over and over that teams need three corners in this modern league to compete, but how confident can the Giants be if their $62.5 million man needs to be supplemented by a first round draft pick?
There were plenty of options for the Giants at cornerback; Sean Smith, Casey Hayward, and Leon Hall were all available and, so far, all except Hall have signed for much less than Jenkins. Prince Amukamara and Josh Norman also signed for less than Janoris. Norman is a better player then Jenkins and has shown to be throughout his career. The Giants had the money to sign Norman, even if his name entered free agency after their initial spending spree.
Next: Eli Apple Must Do This To Be Best #28 In Giants History
While Damon Harrison and Olivier stand poised to be productive stalwarts on defense, Jenkins remains a liability and potential deterrent both on and off the field.