HOUSTON — Janoris Jen kins knows he’s coming back to the Giants. He signed a five-year, $62.5-million contract less than a year ago. Now he’s on a crusade to make sure everyone else comes back, too.
If that happens, Jenkins believes the Giants might be playing in the Super Bowl next year.
“Hopefully we bring everybody back,” he said from Radio Row at the Super Bowl on Friday, with emphasis on defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, a pending free agent, and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who many believe could become a salary-cap casualty. “I’m rooting for those guys. They’ll be back. Yeah, they’ll be back.”
If it sounds as if he is trying to convince himself it will happen, he might be. If it sounds as if he is trying to convince the Giants’ front office that they should do it, he might be doing that, too.
“It’s not about them understanding or hearing me, it’s about winning a championship,” Jenkins said. “You know, you build a defense, you’ve got the pieces, why would you separate them right then when they’re at the peak or about to be the peak and the prime [piece] of the organization? Keep everybody together. That’s why teams don’t ever go back-to- back. Or back-to-back-to-back. Free agency and trades. But keep us together and we’ll make something happen.”
The Giants spent about $200 million on their defense in free agency last offseason. Another investment like that is unlikely.
There are decisions that need to be made, including on Pierre-Paul and defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, another pending free agent.
In terms of deciding on a player’s worth in an active contract, the big conversation will involve Rodgers-Cromartie. He was named an All-Pro second-teamer at slot cornerback this season, and the Giants got a bit of a look at what their secondary might look like without him when he was injured during the wild-card loss to the Packers and they were shredded in the second half.
“Very important,” Jenkins said of keeping DRC. “He’s the leader of the defense. He’s been there the longest, he knows everybody, he knows everything. He’s a great leader for our secondary, along with myself.”
The Giants’ defense made great strides in 2016 and was a big reason the team won 11 games and made the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Although they were knocked out in the wild-card round, Jenkins said it was an overall positive season.
“You have to appreciate it for what it is,” he said. “The better team won and we didn’t make it this far [to the Super Bowl]. There’s always next year, but at the end of the day, we weren’t good enough this year. We’re going to go back and see where we can get better and come back and compete.”
All of them, he hopes. “We’re close,” he said. “This was our first year playing together. Everybody knew we had the talent, everybody knew we had playmakers. Now we have to take it to the next level and play all together and understand that we do have talent and we can make it to the championship game.”