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Sources: Jets to bring back Jenkins, LT

The Jets cut aging veterans Damien Woody, Kris Jenkins and Jason Taylor this week, but it looks like they’ll hold on to LaDainian Tomlinson.

A league source told Metro the Jets plan to offer a one-year contract to nose tackle Kris Jenkins, who they cut Monday. The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the Jets would like to bring back Jenkins at a reduced salary. The 10-year veteran, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first quarter in Week 1, was released Monday along with right tackle Damien Woody and linebacker Jason Taylor. Jenkins was set to enter the fourth year of a five-year deal signed in 2008, due to make $6.4 million in 2011.

Other teams have begun to express interest in the former All-Pro, but Jenkins initial preference would be to stay a Jet, the source said, although he will listen to other offers.

Another league source confirmed the Jets will bring back running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who has one-year left on his deal. The former Pro Bowler, who turns 32 in July, ran for 914 yards, scored six touchdowns and caught 52 passes last season.

The Jets also took a significant step yesterday toward keeping the bulk of their roster in place with their franchise tenders. The most prominent moves were reserved for key free agents such as wide receiver Santonio Holmes and cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who were each given qualifying offers with a firs- and third-round tender. Should an opposing team sign these players they would have to give up two picks in this spring’s NFL draft to lure them away from the Jets.

One of the premier kick returners in the game and the quarterback in the Jets Wildcat package, wide receiver Brad Smith was tagged with a second-round tender. The Jets also placed the original round tender on several players including cornerback Drew Coleman, safety James Ihedigbo, kicker Nick Folk and backup quarterback Kellen Clemens. Any team that signs these players would give up a draft pick from their original selection round.

The release of Taylor and Woody signals the Jets attempt to gain as much maneuverability as possible under what will be a very tight cap. Having resigned D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold and Darrelle Revis to long-term deals last summer, the Jets don’t have much room to keep pieces such as Holmes, Cromartie and wide receiver Braylon Edwards. Per a team spokesperson, the Jets have not yet made a decision on linebacker Vernon Gholston, a first-round pick in 2008 who has yet to make an impact with the team or even register a sack through three years with the team.

The tender talk and the sweeping moves, however, shows the Jets desire to keep a core in place that has made consecutive AFC championship Games for the first time in franchise history.

There is no bigger part of that core than linebacker David Harris, who signed a franchise tender for one year. Voted by his teammates as the Jets most valuable player, Harris registered 99 tackles and three sacks last season.

All these moves, though, may not matter. There is no indication that with a pending lockout and a potentially protracted labor battle set to take place that the Jets or any NFL team will still be able to use the tender system under a new collective bargaining agreement. Neither the league nor the player’s association has given any indication that the tender rule will exist in a new labor deal or if players currently tagged with a tender would be grandfathered in to any new CBA.

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