A day after he was cut by the Jets following his altercation with quarterback Geno Smith, IK Enemkpali has a new NFL home. In a surprising twist, Enemkpali was claimed off waivers today by the team led by his old head coach — according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter), the Bills have claimed the former Jets defensive end.
Rex Ryan, heading into his first season as the head coach in Buffalo, held the same position in New York a year ago when the Jets used a sixth-round pick to draft Enemkpali out of Louisiana Tech. It makes sense that Ryan would recognize the 24-year-old’s value on the field, having seen him first-hand in 2014 — Gil Brandt of NFL.com tweeted today that people around the NFL thought Enemkpali would play again in the league, since he has some talent.
Still, after Enemkpali punched his quarterback in the locker room, it appeared unlikely that another team would take a flier on him right away. Albert Breer of the NFL Network noted today (via Twitter) that more than one team left Enemkpali off its draft board in 2014 due to concerns about his anger issues.
Enemkpali only saw the field sparingly in his rookie season, playing 40 defensive snaps and contributing a little on special teams as well. The young pass rusher could face NFL discipline and even criminal charges for punching Smith, according to an ESPN.com report, as the league confirmed it’s reviewing the Tuesday skirmish that left the quarterback with a broken jaw.
The addition of Enemkpali is the latest in a string of eyebrow-raising acquisitions for Buffalo, whose locker room will also feature Richie Incognito and Percy Harvin. Of course, Ryan said earlier this year, after being hired by the Bills, that he wanted to “build a bully” in Buffalo.