MERIDEN — City native and NFL defensive tackle John Jenkins signed with the New York Giants on Tuesday.
Jenkins spread the news via his Twitter account.“Today I begin a new chapter with the #BigBluenation & happy to announce my signing with @Giants !!” Jenkins wrote.
The 6-foot-3, 327-pound Jenkins is about to enter his sixth season of pro football in the NFL since being drafted by the New Orleans Saints out of the University of Georgia in the third round of the 2013 draft.
The Giants will be his fourth pro team and by far the one closest to home. Jenkins was with the Chicago Bears in 2017. He played for the New Orleans Saints from 2013-15, and split the 2016 season with the Saints and the Seattle Seahawks.
“I’m happy,” Jenkins said in a phone interview on Tuesday night with the Record-Journal’s Sean Krofssik. “To be honest with you, it’s a blessing to be on the market as short as I was after getting released. No one wants to get released, but my agent was contacted by the New York Giants shortly after and that was a blessing.”
Jenkins said his family hasn’t been able to attend many of his NFL games because of travel and caring for Jenkins’ grandmother.
“They haven’t gotten a chance to see me play,” Jenkins said. “They haven’t been able to come and now they will be able to come to a home game here and there.”
The Giants signed Jenkins three days after he was released by the Bears.
“It’s a business,” Jenkins said. “At the end of the day, it’s a business and you are competing for a spot. I got the short end of the straw.
”But the (Bears) organization showed me a lot of love and gave me an opportunity and I made the best of it,” Jenkins added. “This was the outcome of it. They let me go and the Giants got in touch with my agent. That’s how it went. Plain and simple.”
Jenkins is expected to join his new club on Wednesday. He and the Giants will open the 2018 season on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Last year, en route to reaching the AFC Championship game, the Jaguars rushed for a league-best 141.4 yards a game.
Jenkins wasn’t certain if he will be active for the season opener.
“They didn’t say much,”Jenkins said regarding his immediate role with the Giants. “Like any vet knows, you come and do your part and whatever you are asked to do. To make the team better: That’s what my role is.”
Jenkins joins an interior defensive line that includes Damon Harrison, Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill and Mario Edwards. To open up roster space for Jenkins, the Giants parted ways with defensive end Romeo Okwara.
“I feel good, a lot lighter than previous years,” Jenkins said. “I was able to display that in the preseason. My movement was a lot more efficent. I feel good and as healthy as ever.”
Jenkins graduated from Maloney High School and the University of Georgia. In between, he played two years at Gulf Coast Community College in Mississippi.
“I appreciate everybody,” Jenkins said of his hometown. “I appreciate my city that’s backed me up and supported me since Day 1 — and go Big Blue.”