Jenkins vs. Pouha

The 3-4 formation of head coach Rex Ryan calls for a dominant nose tackle, but injuries have derailed Kris Jenkins the past two years and Sione Pouha is a free agent. An already thin Jets defensive line must be keeping team management up at night.

The Jets trimmed down this offseason roster two weeks ago in a big way, shedding 360 lb. nose tackle Kris Jenkins. It was the locker room and fan favorite whose left knee has suffered ACL tears two consecutive years, making him a big question mark to ever play again. New York's man in the middle worked feverishly last year in trying to battle back from a mid-season ending knee injury, only to get injured in the first quarter of the Week 1 loss to Baltimore.

Jenkins intends to play again in 2011, which has led him to train at TEST Sports Clubs in Martinsville, N.J. It remains to be seen whether Jenkins will play with Gang Green or elsewhere this upcoming season.

Jenkins, who was due$ 3.75 million dollars, is in the fourth year of his five year deal, and could be brought make by the Jets for a one year deal, league sources tell GWR. But at what cost? Considering that the Jets have reached the AFC title game the past two seasons with the "Samoan Sensation" holding down the interior of the defensive line, is Jenkins necessary?

Perhaps Jets fans should be more concerned that Jenkins' understudy, Sione Pouha, is in the last year of his four year contract that he signed following his selection in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft. Pouha had been stalwart in the absence of Jenkins, forcing the Jets to decide whether to sign Pouha to a long term deal or give Jenkins one more whirl and hope he doesn't get injured.

General Manager Mike Tanennbaum will have to prioritize the Jets 17 free agents while staying mindful of the NFL's new collective bargaining agreement, which may change the salary cap system. With attractive defensive tackles: Pat Williams, Gerard Warren and Barry Cofield hitting free agency, Mr. T may opt to trade Pouha in exchange for an edge pass rusher or nickel cornerback along with a combination of draft picks. The Jets have a bevy of options at the nose tackle position with Tannenbaum seeking to balance frugal spending with offseason upgrades to help the Jets realize their championship dreams.

But can the Jets bring back both Jenkins and Pouha? There are few nose tackles in the game who, when healthy, can move like Jenkins and get pressure up the middle. It is a huge gamble, however, considering Jenkins recent track record of injuries. And while Pouha is steady and dependable, he is not the overwhelming physical force that Jenkins provides in the middle of the 3-4. What should the Jets do?


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