The first week of re-sign, tag, or walk comes to an end with a starter for the Miami Dolphins in 2016, Linebacker Jelani Jenkins. As teams are getting ready for the 2017 offseason - other than the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons who will be meeting in a week for Super Bowl LI - one of the key decisions they have to make is whether they want to re-sign, franchise/transition tag, or allow a free agent to sign elsewhere. That is exactly what this series of posts does, with fans giving their thoughts on each player.
The Dolphins have 20 players with expiring contracts, with them scheduled to become unrestricted, restricted, or exclusive rights free agents when the new league year begins on March 9. Throughout the next several weeks, we will be asking for your input into what Miami should do with each of those pending free agents. We will break down the history of the player, the player’s 2016 season, contract that is set to expire, the estimated Franchise Tag value, and ask for your vote on what decision the team should make.
Let’s move on to taking a look at Jenkins.
Miami selected Jenkins in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Appearing in all 16 games as a rookie, working primarily as a special teams player, Jenkins eventually worked himself into a starting role in his second seasons, playing in 15 games with 14 starts that season. In 2015, he started all 13 games in which he appeared. He recorded 198 tackles with 3.5 sacks, four passes defensed, three forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery in his first three seasons. His 110 tackles in 2014 led the team.
Jenkins’ 2016 season was dominated by injuries, where knee and hand issues took their toll on the starting linebacker. It limited him to just nine games played on the year, with seven starts. He recorded 29 tackles with one pass defensed. In a year where Miami needed their linebacker corps to take a step forward, Jenkins was consistently slowed due to injuries.
Jenkins’ expiring contract was a four-year, $2.6 million contract. His salary cap number for 2016 was $1.8 million (via overthecap.com).
A linebacker franchise tag will probably be around $15 million for one season.
The Phinsider thoughts
Jenkins’ injuries clearly hurt his development, as well as leaving the team scrambling to fill multiple linebacker positions with injuries to Koa Misis and Kiko Alonso also playing a role. Jenkins was a solid linebacker for the team in 2014 and 2015, so keeping him on the roster and allowing him to continue to grow would be a sensible move. The Dolphins could be looking to upgrade Jenkins’ role in the starting lineup, but keeping him on the roster as a depth option would help the team should injuries start to creep up again in 2017. Re-signing him makes sense.
What should the Dolphins do with Jenkins? Vote below and feel free to discuss in the comments.