Jordan Jenkins betting on himself again in Jets return


The Jets on Monday re-signed two of their most productive linebackers from last season — Jordan Jenkins and James Burgess.

Early in the day, they gave the unheralded Burgess, who was a non-tendered restricted free agent, something he’s never had: Job security. For one year. But for Burgess, who despite having turned 26 on March 9 has been released eight times by six teams in his nomadic NFL career, one year must feel like an eternity.

Later in the day, they agreed to terms with Jordan Jenkins for one year at $5 million, which was first reported by the NFL Network and confirmed with a league source by The Post.

Jenkins, 26, is coming off his best season as a pro, recording a career-high eight sacks despite missing two games with a calf injury. Those were accompanied by nine tackles for losses and 13 quarterback hits.

Despite only starting 11 of 16 games in 2018, the 6-foot-3, 259-pound Jenkins had a career-high 15 quarterback hits. He’s improved incrementally in each of his four seasons.

Jordan Jenkins
Jordan JenkinsAP

Though he’s not an elite pass rusher, Jenkins, a 2016 third-round draft pick, is a productive player who also happens to be a team leader and positive locker-room presence.

Jenkins entered his first crack at unrestricted free agency with big numbers and long-term security in mind.

“Last year [2018] I was sitting there, numbers-wise, I was the same as some of the guys getting paid,’’ Jenkins said at the end of the 2019 season. “I was like, ‘Man, I chose the wrong year to get seven sacks because I’m still coming back anyway on the same contract.’ When the contract is up, that’s when I’ll start being like, ‘OK, what do we do?’ ’’

The free-agent market didn’t end up being as fertile as Jenkins would have hoped, so he opted to return to the place he knows — and to Gregg Williams, the defensive coordinator he believes has gotten the best out of him.

Among the teams believed to have considered signing Jenkins included the Giants and Ravens.

So, Jenkins returns to a linebacking corps that has a chance to be strong with the return of C.J. Mosley, who played only sparingly because of the groin injury he suffered in the season opener, and Avery Williamson, who didn’t play at all after suffering a knee injury in preseason.

The Jenkins and Burgess re-signings come three days after they brought fellow linebacker Neville Hewitt back on a one-year, $2 million contract.

Burgess, with his vagabond history and how productive he was, became one of the feel-good stories on the Jets last season.

The former undrafted free agent out of Louisville started 10 games with the team’s starting linebacker corps ravaged by long-term injuries to Mosley and Williamson, and he produced a career-high 80 tackles and had first career interception. He also had 2.5 sacks, 18 tackles for a loss or no gain and five passes defended.

The undersized (6-foot, 230-pound) Burgess played all 662 defensive snaps over the last nine games.

“How many times has he been cut?” Williams said in November when speaking about Burgess and his NFL odyssey. “Those guys are fun to coach. I love the fact that we’ve had a chance to win with those kinds of guys.”

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Burgess called his rocky ride “the ugly side of the NFL that people don’t really know about.”

He began his NFL career with Adam Gase’s Dolphins in 2016, though he never played for Miami. He did, however, play for Williams with the Browns in 2017-18.

Gase and Williams brought him to the Jets last May. He was among final cuts in late August, but after Mosley suffered a groin injury in the opener, Burgess was signed to the Jets’ practice squad. Seven weeks later, he made his Jets debut at Jacksonville.

Now he’s under contract for the next year with at least a small bit of unfamiliar security.


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