Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Kris Jenkins back in NFC South?
By Pat Yasinskas
Depending on your generation, consider this story as a classified ad in a newspaper or an item on Craigslist.
Kris Jenkins, a guy who, at times, has been considered one of the best defensive tackles in the game, is looking for a new team. The only real requirement Jenkins lists is that the team plays its home games in a stadium with a natural-grass surface.
Hmmm … there’s one obvious question -- could Jenkins return to the Carolina Panthers, the team that drafted him back in 2001? Since trading Jenkins to the New York Jets, after he spent two years begging out, the Panthers have struggled at defensive tackle. They got some decent play out of massive Maake Kemoeatu for a bit, but he couldn’t stay healthy and cost too much. Since then, there’s been a gaping hole in the middle of Carolina’s defensive line.
Could Jenkins be brought back to stand in the middle of that nice grass at Bank of America Stadium? Probably not. First, Carolina’s in a youth movement and Jenkins is 31. Second, Jenkins in Charlotte again might not be a good idea and that’s not even from a Panthers’ angle. Jenkins, never one to hide his feelings, once said Charlotte -- and I’m going to be diplomatic and paraphrase him a bit -- wasn’t cosmopolitan enough for him. That didn’t sit well with fans. Although Jenkins still has some family ties in Charlotte, I don’t think he’s changed his mind about the city’s cultural landscape.
Another part of Jenkins’ reason for wanting out was he wasn’t happy with the former coaching staff, led by John Fox. Ron Rivera’s running the show now and general manager Marty Hurney never had any problem with Jenkins, but I just don’t see the player wanting to come back.
That leads to only one other NFC South option, because New Orleans and Atlanta play in domes with artificial surfaces. That’s the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That team also is in the middle of a youth movement and the Bucs have used draft picks on defensive tackles Gerald McCoy, Brian Price and Roy Miller over the past couple years. None of those three have developed into stars yet, but the Bucs believe it could happen with any or all of them at any moment. Adding Jenkins might cut down on the opportunities for McCoy, Price and Miller to develop. But, then again, throwing Jenkins into the mix for a year might help them along.