Jenkins, 31, in a message on his Facebook page, wrote that "it's time for the torch to be passed to the younger players. I am going to hang up the cleats! The mind is always willing to play, but my body deserves the rest."
Jenkins' 6-foot-5, 360-pound body absorbed significant punishment over 10 seasons, the first seven with the Carolina Panthers. Jenkins underwent reconstructive surgery twice in less than 12 months to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. The latter injury occurred in the 2010 opener, on the sixth play of the season.
Jenkins missed 25 of 32 games over the last two seasons. Early in his career, he missed nearly two full seasons because of knee and shoulder operations.
The charismatic lineman, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, talked about making another comeback even after the Jets released him in February. He worked out at a facility in New Jersey, seemingly intent on resuming his career. But some close to Jenkins never took the comeback talk seriously, noting that he almost retired after his 2009 knee surgery.
When healthy, Jenkins was a dominant interior lineman. In 2008, his first season in New York, he reported in terrific shape and was named to his fourth Pro Bowl.
The Jets traded for Jenkins before the 2008 season, sending third- and fifth-round picks to the Panthers. Jenkins had become disgruntled in Carolina and the Panthers, likewise, grew tired of him and his constant weight issues.
In New York, Jenkins felt rejuvenated -- until the injuries started again. With Jenkins due to make $4.75 million in 2011, the Jets made the expected move by cutting him before the lockout.
When the Jets released Jenkins, there was speculation about a possible return, but that notion was squashed by draft day. The Jets chose Kenrick Ellis, a 6-5, 345-pound nose tackle, in the third round. He will back up starter Sione Pouha, who handled the job when Jenkins got hurt.
"He's a big, powerful man that's athletic," Jets coach Rex Ryan once said of Jenkins. "There aren't too many people walking the face of the earth that are like that."
In his career, Jenkins played in 108 games and recorded 24 sacks.
Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com.