More Sports:

March 17, 2020

Eagles moving on from Malcolm Jenkins

Eagles NFL
96_11032019_EaglesvsBears_Malcolm_Jenkins_KateFrese.jpg Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Malcolm Jenkins during the Philadelphia Eagles game against the Chicago Bears at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on November 3, 2019.

The Philadelphia Eagles announced on Tuesday that they will not exercise a 2020 contract option for defensive mainstay safety Malcolm Jenkins. They also released a statement:

Unhappy with his contract last spring, Jenkins sent a message to the Eagles' front office by skipping voluntary OTAs. Eventually, he played nice, as he showed up to training camp, played on his under-market contract, and did not miss a single snap all season long.

After the 2019 season ended, Jenkins sent a crystal clear message to the Eagles' front office through the media -- He was not going to play for the Eagles in 2020 on his current contract.

Jenkins had a good case. In terms of average annual value, he was (at the time) only the 12th highest-paid safety in the NFL, and he was only owed $7,600,000 in salary in 2020, which was not guaranteed. 

Meanwhile, here were his snap count numbers since he has played in Philly:

Malcolm Jenkins Snap counts Percentage 
 20191,035 100% 
 20181,038 100% 
 2017948* 91.9% 
 20161,019 99.9% 
 20151,211 99.8% 
 20141,153 99.6% 
*Jenkins only played 6 snaps in a meaningless Week 17 game, with the 1 seed wrapped up.

On a team that has suffered an absurd number of injuries the last three seasons, Jenkins has been the lone constant in the Eagles' defense. His value to the team could not have been clearer in 2018, when his leadership and presence kept the Eagles' secondary from completely crumbling after it had lost Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Rodney McLeod, Sidney Jones, and others. 

At one point during his Eagles tenure, I believe there was a case that Jenkins was a borderline top 5 kind of safety in the NFL. While he's not that anymore — and oh by the way he just turned 32 in December — Jenkins was still a very good starting safety, and his intangibles were impossible to measure. 

Jenkins' INTs were down (1 since 2018), but he still made plays. For example, he had 8 forced fumbles (one didn't count) the last two seasons, and he became a significant threat as a blitzer down the stretch in 2019. He also had a blocked field goal against the Lions that should have led to a win, but ultimately didn't.

Of course, it is unknown what Jenkins wanted in terms of a new contract. If it were just a bump in pay with some guarantees, then the Eagles should have obliged. If he was looking to become one of the top-paid safeties in the league, than that was simply not going to happen.

During the 2009 offseason, the Eagles let Brian Dawkins get away, and they didn't find a good starting safety again until Jenkins' arrival in 2014. The Eagles are running a huge risk of experiencing another such drought by moving on from the leader of their defense, both on and off the field.

Follow Jimmy & PhillyVoice on Twitter: @JimmyKempski | @thePhillyVoice

Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports

Add Jimmy's RSS feed to your feed reader