The New England Patriots cut two veteran wide receivers early in camp in Donald Jones and Lavelle Hawkins, and Michael Jenkins is now the third veteran casualty at the position in camp. Jenkins managed to stick around long enough for some reason, and I bet it’s because he played so well in minicamp and OTAs, which led him to be the token veteran at the position in case one of the rookie would flop. Well, the overall impressive play of the three major rookie receivers (Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, and Kenbrell Thompkins) has been constant, and the fact that their success seems to be “for real” (seeing as how they have kept it up this far) has led Jenkins to finally receive his walking papers.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the move, and Michael Jenkins will likely top the Patriots emergency list at the position. I’ve always thought since the first couple of days at camp that the only chance of Jenkins cracking the roster would be if Cincinnati UDFA Kenbrell Thompkins fizzled out or if the Patriots decided to keep seven wide receivers. Thompkins has continued to play at a high level, and he was the Patriots best wide receiver in the preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Right now, the Patriots six wide receivers on the roster are set at Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Matthew Slater, Dobson, Boyce, and Thompkins (in no particular order).
Jenkins was an odd-man-out thanks to the play of the rookies (Thompkins was his main competitor to open up camp), and he was probably behind Kamar Aiken on the depth chart as well. Aiken also played well in OTAs and minicamp, and he has outplayed Jenkins in training camp. In fact, Jenkins has been the Patriots worst receiver through training camp, and there was simply no place for him.
The Patriots decision to release Jenkins should come as a surprise to exactly nobody, and it was the right move to make. Although it is early, he clearly had no place in their future plans. Jenkins’s only pluses are experience and size, which will really only help him out in the red zone. “Molasses Mike” is slow and has little upside, and he also struggled with drops in camp. I like Jenkins personally and believe he should find work with another team, but the Patriots want to go young at the position.
But if an injury strikes and Jenkins is still on the free agent wire, then I am willing to bet that the Patriots will sign him up. But for now, there was no room on the roster for Jenkins, and he was honestly quite poor in camp. This release makes sense from an age and performance perspective for the Patriots, and there isn’t a reason to criticize this release.