NEW YORK -- The New York Jets made a huge splash on the first day of free agency by trading for a big guy to put in the middle of their defensive line.
The Jets acquired three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kris Jenkins from the Carolina Panthers on Friday for third- and fifth-round draft picks. The 6-foot-4, 349-pound Jenkins will move to nose tackle in the Jets' 3-4 defensive scheme.
"I think it will be somewhat of an adjustment," Jenkins said Friday night. "I mean, I am human. I can't just put on a red cape and fly away. I think it is something I can handle, and something I can excel at."
Jenkins' acquisition started a busy day for the Jets, who also traded linebacker Jonathan Vilma to the New Orleans Saints for a fourth-round pick in 2008. If Vilma reaches certain playing time incentives and signs an extension with New Orleans, New York would instead get a second- or third-round pick in 2009 and would give the Saints its fourth-round pick that year.
After trading for Jenkins, the Jets came to terms with him on a new five-year contract worth $35 million, including $20 million in guaranteed money.
"Kris is a productive player who is stout at the point of attack and has the ability to rush the passer," Jets coach Eric Mangini said. "We are looking forward to adding him to our defense."
|'I get to be the big stud in the middle,' Kris Jenkins says of playing in a 3-4 defense. (Getty Images)|
"Whatever I have to do as far as my weight is concerned, as far as my work ethic, training, I'm open to everything," Jenkins said.
He played in all 16 games last season, but had only 2½ sacks. Near the end of the season, he said he wasn't sure if he wanted to return to Carolina. After speaking with Mangini and general manager Mike Tannenbaum, Jenkins knew he wanted to be a member of the Jets.
"It didn't take too much of a sales pitch for me," he said.
The Jets hope Jenkins can regain the form that made him one of the NFL's top defensive tackles before missing most of the 2004 and '05 seasons with injuries.
"I want to take on this task of this 3-4 defense," said Jenkins, who made his third Pro Bowl in 2006. "Basically, I get to be the big stud in the middle who makes it easier for the linebackers and helps my team do what it needs to do to win."