Should the Panthers trade Kris Jenkins? Pros & Cons Carolina Perspective
Pro: Deal him while he still has value
On the face of it, trading a 27-year-old defensive tackle who just made the Pro Bowl for the third time seems ridiculous.
But it's not ridiculous. It's smart. If the Carolina Panthers can get a second-round pick or better for Kris Jenkins, they should pull the trigger on that trade right now.
It's not necessary to hold a fire sale for Jenkins -- he's still good enough to start for the Panthers and still might. There should be no thought of waiving him if the right deal doesn't surface. But I don't think Jenkins will ever approach the player he was in 2002 and 2003, when he was the best defensive tackle in football.
Since then, Jenkins has missed almost two entire seasons with serious knee and shoulder injuries and made a nice return in 2006. He was rewarded with a Pro Bowl berth last season that I thought was unjustified given his performance, although he wasn't awful by any stretch.
I just don't think Jenkins' body will hold up. He's one of those guys who has battled his weight for years. The Panthers like him to play at about 335 pounds, but he sometimes approached 400 when sitting out with his injuries. He also has fought some battles with alcohol and depression. And he's not exactly a workout fiend. The trade rumor has apparently motivated him to get in better shape, but he shouldn't need to be goaded into working out.
It's far more likely that No. 77 will get hurt again than it is that he will become the player he was in 2003 again.
Two more reasons this trade would be a good idea: The Panthers have more depth at defensive tackle than they do almost anywhere else and they are used to playing without Jenkins, since they did so for almost all of 2004 and 2005.
I would miss Jenkins. He's a good player and an entertaining interview subject. Once, he said of rival defensive tackle Warren Sapp: "His soul stinks."
But this is the right time to trade Jenkins -- while he's healthy and retains some good trade value -- assuming the price is right.
Con: Rash move could haunt Panthers
Trading Kris Jenkins would be a risky move by the Carolina Panthers.
What if he gets motivated by being dealt, sets out to prove the Panthers wrong and has a big season or two for his new team? It could definitely happen.
Make no mistake about it, Jenkins, at age 27, still has the skills to be one of the NFL's premier defensive tackles.
But in order for that to happen, he'll need to lose weight and commit himself to a vigorous offseason training regimen -- something he seems to have been much too lax about with the Panthers.
It's understandable if Carolina officials have grown weary of waiting on Jenkins to return to the all-pro form he showed in 2002 and '03. Who could blame them if they'd prefer to move on without him?
But the Panthers must not over-react.
Trading Jenkins for anything less than a second-round pick would be tantamount to a fire sale. And even what looks like a sweet deal on the front end could turn into a public relations boomerang if Jenkins moves on to star elsewhere.
If Jenkins goes, an era ends. There was a time when he and Julius Peppers made the Panthers' defensive line one of the league's most feared units. If Jenkins goes, Carolina's line could still be good, but its potential for greatness would lessen significantly.
None of this is to suggest the Panthers should be passive about doing the right thing. Already, putting Jenkins on the trade market was a gutsy move.
So applaud the Carolina braintrust for bravado, but be sure to understand that a trade is far from a slam-dunk solution.
Jenkins is as hard to figure out as he used to be to block. Perhaps he'll never be an elite player again. There's no way to know for sure.
Sadly, it was never supposed to come to this.