The New Orleans Saints came into the the 2019 season with arguably the deepest and most talented secondary in franchise history. It was a a standard that they lived up through the midway portion of the season. Cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Eli Apple would contain some of the best receivers in the NFL one-on-one, giving their physical defense a big advantage over opponents. Apple began to struggle with penalties and blown coverages down the stretch of the year though, and would eventually be shelved with an ankle injury. Rookie defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson emerged as an excellent coverage option in the slot, and strong safety Vonn Bell continued his underrated play. With Apple's struggles and the putrid play from P.J. Williams and Patrick Robinson, New Orleans had a clear vulnerability in the secondary going down the stretch, even with another Pro Bowl effort from Lattimore. That weakness was shored up late in the season though, with a signing of a top talent who was surprisingly available on waivers. That player is the subject of today's year in review.
Cornerback Janoris Jenkins was released by the New York Giants thirteen games into the 2019 season for some off the field issues. The Saints quickly pounced on the 9-Yr veteran, who had 4 interceptions and gave up just 53.8% completion percentage under his coverage in 2019 with the Giants. Jenkins played in the final two regular season games and started the team's wild-card playoff loss and made an immediate impact for the defense. Jenkins had a half sack, forced a fumble, and had 1 interception in three games of action with New Orleans. He also rendered Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs ineffective when facing him in one-on-one coverage, despite his team's loss.
Janoris Jenkins is one of the better coverage corners in the National Football League; a player who possesses gamebreaking ability. He has scored 8 defensive touchdowns in his career, intercepting 23 passes and either forcing or recovering 8 fumbles. The 31-Yr old cornerback has the man-to-man skills to match up with most NFL wideouts and is a calculated gambler who can turn the momentum of a game with his big play capability. Jenkins' current contract runs through the end of the upcoming season. With Eli Apple and P.J. Williams both due to hit free agency and Robinson likely to be released, cornerback will still be an offseason need for New Orleans.
Jenkins would count over $11.2 million dollars against the Saints salary cap if retained at his current contract. That figure is comparable to some of the top cornerback salaries throughout the league. He has said that he does wish to remain in New Orleans. With the Saints limited on salary cap space and several big contracts to address over the next two years, the team might look to negotiate a new deal for the talented defensive back. The cornerback position will be addressed this offseason, but if the franchise loses both Jenkins and Apple it becomes a top priority. Janoris Jenkins showed himself to be an ideal compliment to Marshon Lattimore even in his short time with the Saints, giving the team one of the league's top duos at the position. The decision to retain him, even at current salary, gives New Orleans the ability to contain the NFL's best wideouts.