Much has been made this offseason about the disconnect between the Eagles and Pro Bowl Safety Malcolm Jenkins. Jenkins, who signed a four-year $35 million-dollar extension in 2016, is reportedly unhappy with the deal as it currently stands. Jenkins did not report to OTA’s but has recently made it clear he will report to the mandatory mini-camp.
Since Howie Roseman’s second coming as Eagles GM, he has not only managed the cap magnificently, but at the same time has taken care of the Eagles’ core players: Fletcher Cox, Zach Ertz, Lane Johnson, and most recently, franchise quarterback Carson Wentz. Malcolm Jenkins is definitely in the same category as all of those players who have been locked up and paid well by the Eagles and needs to be treated as such.
On The Field
When initially signed, Jenkins was scoffed at as an afterthought, a huge miss by the Eagles as a result of not signing the more highly touted Jairus Byrd and T.J. Ward (neither have played in the NFL since the end of 2017). Jenkins signed a three-year, $15 million-dollar deal at the time, well below the price of the previously mentioned alleged top free agent safeties. Going into the final year of that initial deal, which Jenkins without a doubt over-performed, Roseman rewarded Jenkins with the four-year extension mentioned above.
Since signing as a free agent with the Eagles in 2014, Jenkins has played in and started all 80 games. Over that time, he has over 400 tackles, 11 picks, 8 forced fumbles, and 4 touchdowns. He has gone on to make three Pro Bowl appearances as an Eagle, has routinely been moved around between both safety positions, nickel corner, and even in a hybrid-linebacker type of role, and lastly, only slightly played a role in the franchise finally winning a Super Bowl in 2018.
We have seen the rotation of other pieces throughout the Eagles’ secondary, with Jenkins being the one constant that has held together the defense. Sidney Jones IV, Ronald Darby, Rodney McLeod, and Jalen Mills have all had their share of injuries and time missed, and we’ve seen countless new faces that have managed to co-exist and have success. A tremendous amount of that credit needs to go to Jenkins as both a presence on the field and also essentially being the quarterback of the secondary and even the defense as a whole.
Jenkins’ deal runs through the 2020 season, and he will make just under $9 million per year, which is still amongst the top 10 safeties in the NFL. However, this offseason showed what the current market is willing to pay for top-tier safeties, as Landon Collins and Tyrann Mathieu both signed free agent deals that average $14 million per year. Going on 32 years old, Jenkins obviously realizes this is his peak opportunity to try and take advantage of his value overall and especially to the Eagles, and he is completely right in doing so.
Off The Field
While Jenkins’ play speaks for itself, there is also the consideration of all he does off the field. Jenkins seems like one of the most highly revered players in the entire NFL. Jenkins came to the forefront of NFL players who make their voices heard off the field when he was one of the first and most significant supporters of Colin Kaepernick’s anthem protests in 2016. Jenkins, rather than taking a knee, would raise a fist in the air during the anthem to acknowledge his protest. Jenkins was supported by many of his teammates, most notably recently retired Chris Long.
Stemming from that, Jenkins became a co-founder of the Players Coalition – an organization that fights injustices disproportionately affecting African-Americans. He has met with many powerful politicians in both the federal government and also with more prominent people in Philadelphia as well, going as far as going on ride-alongs with the Philadelphia Police Department. When many of the Eagles declined the invitation to the White House, several Eagles, including Jenkins, vowed to instead go to D.C. and do charity work, and did so.
Jenkins has also founded The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation, whose mission is as follows: To effectuate positive change in the lives of youth, particularly those in underserved communities. He is often at the forefront of many of the Eagles franchise charities, as well as the charities and events that his teammates support, such as Carson Wentz’s AO1 Foundation and its Charity Softball event that just took place a few weeks ago. Jenkins was the Eagles 2017 nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.
Pay The Man
Like it or not, the Eagles have set a precedent amongst NFL franchises as a team that takes care of their players, being an elite locker room as far as chemistry and camaraderie, and a place that players simply want to play. Lane Johnson has been a huge vocal leader in this regard to the joy or dismay of some fans. DeSean Jackson has been incredibly vocal on how happy he is to be back in Philadelphia. Carson Wentz signed what could end up being a fairly team friendly deal (as far as franchise QB’s go) and has been routinely saying he was simply looking to lock himself in as an Eagle for the foreseeable future.
Jenkins has done as much, if not more, for the team, the franchise, and the city as all the players I just named. He has done so both on and off the field. While we have often praised Roseman for his manipulation of the cap and the wonderful deals he pulls off, we have equally praised him for making sure our stars, our players, our family, are well taken care of when they deserve to be. Jenkins, without a doubt, deserves to be. Pay the man.