The New York Giants may have looked foolish in giving Janoris Jenkins such a big contract, but the cornerback is living up to the deal thus far.
New York Giants’ General Manager Jerry Reese was committed to retooling a defense that allowed an eye-popping 419.3 yards per game and finished dead last just a season ago.
Signing Olivier Vernon to play on the other side of Jason Pierre-Paul? Five years for $85 million was a lot to dish out, but his youth and good health made him the best option available. Meanwhile, giving crosstown rival Damon Harrison $46.5 million over five years was seen as a smart move as the former New York Jet is known as one of the premier run-stuffers in the league.
After giving Pierre-Paul the franchise tag, the defensive line was set. But there was still a hole opposite of cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, as Prince Amukamara and his injury-riddled body took his talents to Jacksonville.
In came Janoris Jenkins, who Reese gave a five-year, $62.5 million deal at the start of free agency.
On the field, the former St. Louis Ram gave the Giants an explosive playmaker, one who can change the course of a game on one pass due to his innate ball-hawking skills. But for every interception the man known as Jackrabbit hauled in, he also gave up big play after big play due to his gambling nature.
Yes, the Giants needed a cornerback. But was it worth the second highest guarantee per season in the NFL, just behind Darrelle Revis?
According to a plethora of experts, no.
But Jenkins hasn’t worried about anyone’s opinion. And five games into 2016, that contract that looked so asinine has now been worth every penny.
His first season in the Big Apple started out on an impressive note, turning the X-Factor into a non-factor as he held Dallas Cowboys star Dez Bryant to just one catch for eight yards. That trend continued into Week 2 as he opposed speedster Brandin Cooks; while Jenkins did allow seven catches, none of them gained more than 15 yards.
Jackrabbit primarily lined up against Pierre Garçon in Week 3 and surrendered five receptions for 59 yards. He did, however, contain the receiver and also had the play of the game by returning a blocked field goal for a touchdown.
The Week 4 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings was easily the worst performance from Jenkins. While his battle against up-and-coming wideout Stefon Diggs was rather successful (five receptions, 47 yards), Jenkins did commit a poor pass interference penalty in the end zone, one of the changing points of the game.
Despite another loss to the Green Bay Packers in Week 5, Jenkins, once again, was amongst the standout performers on the Giants defense. Elite quarterback Aaron Rodgers was given nearly five seconds per passing play, so giving up 60 yards over five catches is something to be expected. But Jenkins also showed the playmaking skills that made him famous as he intercepted his first two passes of the season. Although the offense never capitalized on the turnovers, Jenkins did his part in trying to turn the tide of the game.
There’s still a ton of football to play with 11 weeks to go. Jenkins still has to go up against the likes of Steve Smith Sr., A.J. Green, Alshon Jeffrey, and Antonio Brown, amongst others. And it won’t get any easier, as Rodgers-Cromartie and first-round pick Eli Apple are both dealing with leg injuries.
But with the first five weeks in the books and a ton of inconsistent football played, one constant has been Jenkins. He may not be the best cover corner, but he goes all out on every play. He gets his nose dirty in the run game and is always trying to get the football.
And most importantly, he’s earning his $62.5 million contract.
Dan Federico is a contributor for Elite Sports NY. You can interact with him on Twitter or contact him via email.