June 03, 2019
One of the main storylines that could hang over the Eagles throughout this summer is the one regarding Malcolm Jenkins' contract and whether or not he is holding out in the hopes of landing a more lucrative deal.
So far, Jenkins, who took part in Carson Wentz's charity softball game on Friday night, hasn't done anything wrong. He, like several other Eagles veterans including Jason Peters, Lane Johnson, Alshon Jeffery and Fletcher Cox, decided to skip the team's offseason workouts to this point. And that's fine, since they've all been optional — and, as head coach Doug Pederson mentioned on Monday, their absence actually allows the team to get a better look at some of the players on the roster bubble.
That could all change next week, however, when the Eagles open their week-long mandatory minicamp, the last part of their offseason program before training camp begins later this summer. Should Jenkins — or others — fail to report, they'd be subject to fines, and it would be a strong indication that a contract dispute could linger throughout training camp.
But at the start of the final week of OTAs, Pederson said he isn't worried about his veterans returning to the NovaCare Complex for minicamp.
"Again, we're still in that voluntary portion of the offseason and we're focused on the guys who are here," Pederson said. "But I fully expect everybody will be here next week."
Pederson, however, added that he didn't have any advance knowledge of Jenkins' plans to attend.
"That's just me personally," he said. "It's the first mandatory portion of the offseason, so as a head coach I'd expect that they'd all be here."
And while Pederson seemed totally fine with several veterans missing practice to this point, that mindset will change next week.
"The guys that aren't here, they're veteran players, they're guys that have played a ton of football for us, they helped us win a championship a couple years ago, so I'm not concerned really with those guys not being here," Pederson said. "Obviously, next week is a different set of circumstances because it is, as I mentioned, the only mandatory portion of our offseason. But the guys that are here have been working extremely hard and we're building that chemistry right now, kind of laying that foundation with the guys we have, and we'll carry it over to next week and then into training camp."
In case you're wondering why Jenkins might be looking for a new deal, here's what we wrote when his absence was first noted at the start of OTAs a few weeks back:
Jenkins, 31, is one of the best and most versatile players at his position and has two years left on his deal. But as more and more safeties sign lucrative free agency deals each offseason, Jenkins has seen the value of his current contract decrease dramatically. Heading into the 2019 season, Jenkins ranks ninth in among NFL safeties in average annual salary ($8.75 million) and total guaranteed money ($21 million), according to OverTheCap.com. The total value of his contract ($35 million) also ranks ninth in the league at his position, but it's nowhere close to Landon Collins' $84 million deal with the Giants that makes him the highest-paid safety in the game.
A perennial Pro Bowler, Jenkins has been the leader of the Eagles defense for several years now, including during their Super Bowl run — not to mention his work in the community or with the Players' Coalition — and would be justified if he felt like he was worth slightly more to the Eagles than his contract currently suggests. Especially when the Eagles somehow still have north of $20 million in salary cap space.
Sure, some of that cap space could be earmarked for Carson Wentz's expected contract extension, but this is a guy who has been the leader of the team's defense and has been willing to do whatever the coaches have asked — like playing at an extremely high level at multiple positions while not missing a single snap — so it would be nice if they could find a little extra in there for him.
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