Janoris Jenkins release raises questions for Kansas City Chiefs
By Matt Conner
The New York Giants released veteran cornerback Janoris Jenkins on Friday. Should the Kansas City Chiefs try to claim him on waivers?
It wasn’t so long ago that Janoris Jenkins was a name we were watching in terms of the NFL trade deadline. These days, he comes without a price tag. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Kansas City Chiefs are going to want to swoop in and sign him at this point.
On Friday, the New York Giants decided to release the veteran cornerback for replying to someone on Twitter using an offensive term. Jenkins met with head coach Pat Shurmur (and likely more team officials) and did not seem remorseful for making the statement. The end result was an “organizational decision” to release Jenkins at this point in the season.
Jenkins is not scheduled to be a free agent next year, which means any team that claims him is not only on the hook for the remainder of his current salary but also the $11-plus million owed to him next year. That amount, however, is not guaranteed for the former second round pick.
For the Chiefs, there are a few key considerations at play here now that Janoris is semi-free. Let’s take them in order.
Let’s be quite clear: Janoris Jenkins in a Kansas City Chiefs jersey would be a net positive.
Jenkins has started all 13 games this year for the Giants, which shows he’s reliable, and he’s among the NFL’s leaders in interceptions this season with 4 (matching his career-high). Jenkins also has 14 batted passes and 54 total tackles.
Jenkins has also played well for Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo in years past, back in 2015-16 when Spags was the defensive coordinator for the Giants. (Interestingly enough, Spags was fired as head coach of the St. Louis Rams in the same offseason that the Rams drafted Jenkins.) Despite the years missed, Jenkins should be able to step up and make an impact fairly quickly for the Chiefs given his experience with Spags.
As things currently stand, the Chiefs have been playing with a less-than-full deck at cornerback. Rashad Fenton is nursing a hamstring injury for which he’s missed one week. Kendall Fuller missed four weeks with a hand injury. Mo Claiborne has a shoulder injury that’s kept him out last week and potentially this coming week as well. Going into the postseason, it would be nice to have another corner who could provide both solid play and security in case of injuries.
At this point, the Jenkins’ incident can be painted in a couple ways. First, it can be a public relations concern for a player who has been labeled (and at the very least has said something horrible). Jenkins has since apologized on Twitter, but that might not amount to much for fans. It certainly wasn’t a great demonstration of remorse or understanding of the situation—especially after he initially defended the use of the word.
That said, it also sounds as if Jenkins was, in part, worming his way off of a miserable Giants roster. Was this some big-time conspiracy to temporarily offend in order to wiggle his way onto a playoff-caliber team? I doubt it. That’s a bit complex, and the reality is that Jenkins has to endure the waiver process, which means no one knows who will claim him. However, check out the following response to the release:
Once again, Jenkins takes to Twitter to express himself and there’s obvious relief in getting out from under the Giants organization. Does he know a specific team will already take him? Is he betting on himself? It depends on how you want to frame all of this.
It’s hard to predict what the Chiefs might do in this instance. Brett Veach sat on his hands at the trade deadline and left the roster as it is and the Chiefs are likely all the better for it. Instead of shipping off more draft assets, the Chiefs learned to rely on their youth and depth to shore up roster concerns.
As a roster move, Janoris Jenkins is a great addition with little-to-no risk on paper. If it doesn’t work out, the Chiefs could simply move on and be out a bit of change. The move would bolster the secondary beyond just this year as well, when in 2020, the Chiefs only have Fenton and Charvarius Ward under contract. Adding Jenkins to the mix gives them a luxury of a playable vet on a team-friendly deal, and Veach could then approach free agency and the draft with more than just two developing players.
Then again, do the Chiefs want to start answering the same questions posed to the Giants? The Chiefs just endured an offseason to forget with the release of Kareem Hunt and the offseason investigation of Tyreek Hill. Trading for Jenkins, in some ways, makes the Chiefs look like gluttons for punishment.
Is it worth the potential PR headache to bring in Jenkins? Have the cornerbacks proven enough to withstand the rigors of the stretch run and postseason already? Will another team claim Jenkins so it doesn’t even matter? It will be Monday after 4;00 p.m. when we finally find any of this out.