- Demetrius Harvey
Jaguars safety Rayshawn Jenkins ‘eager’ to get going with new team
The Jaguars have begun upgrading its secondary since the start of free agency, beginning with safety Rayshawn Jenkins.
On the opening day of the NFL’s two-day negotiation window prior to the start of the new league year, the Jaguars agreed to terms with former Los Angeles Chargers safety Rayshawn Jenkins on a four-year deal worth $35M with $16M guaranteed.
Going by the numbers, Jenkins should be expected to make an immediate impact in Jacksonville, and that’s exactly what he expects to bring as a member of the Jaguars secondary unit.
“I feel like what Coach Meyer and them is trying to do right now they’re trying to really build a winning program and get guys, you know, that’s like-minded inside of the program, inside of the organization,” Jenkins said yesterday on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “And I feel like I’m the right guy to come in and do that right away, to have an immediate impact.”
Jenkins has started for the Chargers over the past two seasons playing various roles including free safety, strong safety, nickel and a down-linebacker role in former Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s defense.
Now, he will enter an unchartered territory with the Jaguars, playing for defensive coordinator Joe Cullen.
What he brings to the table includes leadership and versatility, he says.
“I did everything. I get down and dirty. Whatever you need me at I’m there. I play man to man I play zone. If you need somebody hit, that’s me,” said Jenkins.
High energy is something the Jaguars have been lacking on defense since the departure of All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey. A player that not only walks the walk but talks the talk, too, so to speak. The energy that a player, particularly on defense, can ignite the rest of the players surrounding him, something Jenkins will bring to the table.
“I‘m going to bring just straight-up energy man, that’s what type of player I am. I’m passionate. People gonna see that on the field. You gonna see it every Sunday, I promise you.”
There’s a reason why the Chargers opted to feature Jenkins so often on their “Mic’d Up” segments. Jenkins was mic’d up against the Jaguars just last year, too, matching up at times against Jaguars running back James Robinson. The energy is evident, and something the Jaguars organization will likely appreciate.
“I’ve been playing football in the state of Florida since I was 8. That’s how we get down, down here. That’s how we talk. If you with it, you with it, if not, then get out the way.
Just prior to free agency there was a clear group of safeties that were thought to be among the best, the ones that would potentially reset the market. In the second tier, however, many wondered what sort of payday they’d get.
For Jenkins, he knew he wasn’t among the top-tier players on most of the league’s board that included Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons, Saints’ Marcus Williams and Jets’ Marcus Maye. All three would be franchise tagged just prior to the negotiation window opening.
That allowed players like Jenkins to shoot up boards, and he says he was maybe the next man up, allowing him to get the compensation he felt he deserved in free agency.
“I want to say on everybody’s board, I was maybe the fourth or fifth safety heading into the agency,” Jenkins said frankly. “And those three guys got tagged, Williams, Simmons and Maye all got tagged. So that shot me up to the number one and or number ... that really got me you know, a little bit more exposure with the Saints, the Jets in the Broncos doing that with their dogs.”
The Jaguars did pay Jenkins handsomely, something he says he appreciates and will use the money to set himself up for life, partaking in the growing real estate business that many NFL players have lept into in recent years.
“I feel that the Jaguars organization took care of me. I feel like I’ve got what I want, and I feel like, in my mind, I’m set for life.”
Now, Jenkins will get ready for the next stage of his life in the game of football. After four years of playing under one coach, he will need to learn a new defense, getting ready to play under Cullen, something he’s excited to do.
“I’m really excited to come in and learn in this new defense that coach Cullen has, so I’m very excited, very eager to get going.
While Jenkins being on the team isn’t allowed to be made official until later today when the new league year officially begins at 4 p.m. ET., it didn’t stop him from opining on the potential No. 1 overall selection Trevor Lawrence, and the expectations he has for the rookie quarterback after playing with then-rookie quarterback Justin Herbert just last season.
Jenkins understands that a good defense is the quarterback’s best friend during his rookie season, the team will have to step up and beat the opposing offense to give more opportunities to players like Herbert last year, or potentially Lawrence this year.
But, at the end of the day, seeing what Herbert did with the Chargers last season gives Jenkins a bit of hope, expecting the same out of Lawrence this season.
“It just gives me hope because me seeing a rookie quarterback come in and do what Justin did last year ... That’s my standard from now on. Especially o if we did go and get Trevor so that will be my standard as far as a rookie quarterback.”
The Jaguars will likely be getting Trevor, but they will almost definitely be getting Jenkins, who will soon sign on the bottom line.
“I appreciate that opportunity. And I’m just happy to be a part of what the Jacksonville Jaguars organization is building.”