March 17, 2020
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:
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.