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July 19, 2019

Eagles training camp preview: Safety

Eagles NFL
Carroll - Eagles Stock Andrew Sendejo Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Andrew Sendejo, orrrrrrr a fourth-round pick?

Leading up to training camp, we'll take a look at every player on the Philadelphia Eagles' roster, and how they fit with the team. In case you've missed any of our previous positional previews, you can catch up here.


 QB | RB | WR | TE | OT | iOL | DE | DT | LB | CB

Today we'll look at the safeties.

 SMalcolm Jenkins   Andrew SendejoBlake Countess
 S Rodney McLeodTre SullivanDeiondre' Hall Godwin Igwebuike

Malcolm Jenkins

While his stat line (97 tackles, a sack, three FF, and a pick) wasn't eye-popping by any stretch in 2018, Jenkins held together a secondary that was missing the following players for extended periods of time:

• Rodney McLeod: 15 games.

• Jalen Mills: 10 games.

• Ronald Darby: 9 games.

• Sidney Jones: 9 games.

• Avonte Maddox: 3 games.

• Corey Graham: 3 games.

Jenkins was the lone constant, and without his leadership, the entire defense might have completely folded. Take your pick between Jenkins and Fletcher Cox as the team's most valuable player last season.

As such, Jenkins missed voluntary OTAs (something he has never done before), and there was a lot of hand-wringing over whether or not he would show up to a mandatory minicamp. He did, however, he was clear to note to a gaggle of reporters that he wants a new deal, that frankly, he rightfully deserves.

Jenkins' salary in 2019 is $8,100,000. In 2020, it's $7,600,000, and it isn't guaranteed.

His contract, when he signed it, was an average per year of $8,750,000. That is now ninth in the NFL. As a player, Jenkins is arguably a top-five safety in the NFL. He's now 31, but has shown no signs of slowing down. Add in his intangibles mentioned above, and his value to the team can't be overstated. 

This offseason, a bunch of safeties got paid. Here's how they fared on the open market:

 PlayerTeam Years Dollars APY 
 Landon Collins (25)Washington $84,000,000 $14,000,000 
 Tyrann Mathieu (27)Chiefs $42,000,000 $14,000,000 
 Earl Thomas (30)Ravens $55,000,000 $13,750,000 
 Lamarcus Joyner (28)Raiders $42,000,000 $10,500,000 
 Adrian Amos (26)Packers $36,000,000 $9,000,000 
 Tashaun Gipson (28)Texans $22,500,000 $7,500,000 
 Eric Reid (27)Panthers $22,050,000 $7,350,000 
 Kenny Vaccaro (28)Titans $24,000,000 $6,000,000 
 Eric Weddle (34)Rams $11,502,051 $5,751,025 

Jenkins is better than Landon Collins. He's also better, in my view, than post-ACL tear Tyrann Mathieu. And yet, he's making roughly 60 percent of what they're making.

Jenkins still doesn't have a new deal, but as of week before the start of camp, there have been no substantial reports that he intends on holding out.

Rodney McLeod

McLeod took a pay cut this offseason to stay with the team, and he'll be a free agent in 2020. His 2018 season was off to a good start, but he missed the final 13 games of the regular season with a serious knee injury. His replacements were, uh, not great. It was originally thought that McLeod "only" tore his MCL Week 3 against the Colts, but it was later revealed that he also tore his ACL. McLeod thinks he'll be ready to go for the start of training camp.

Andrew Sendejo

We're going to rehash compensatory picks here, so if you're a regular reader of mine, you may as well just skip to the next player, because you've probably already read some version of this. 

In case you're unfamiliar with comp picks, the short-short explanation is that teams are awarded free draft picks if they lose more players in free agency than they gain.

There are currently four former Eagles players who will count toward the compensatory pick formula as "players lost." They are Nick Foles, Golden Tate, Jordan Hicks, and Jordan Matthews. There are two new Eagles who will count toward the compensatory pick formula as "players gained." They are L.J. Fort and Andrew Sendejo. 

Fort and Sendejo would currently cancel out Hicks and Matthews, leaving the Eagles with two comp picks earned, as we note in our compensatory pick tracker (h/t OverTheCap).

Players lost (APY) - Projected round Players gained (APY) - Projected round 
 Nick Foles ($22,000,000) - 3L.J. Fort ($1,633,333) - 7 
Golden Tate ($9,375,000) - 4Andrew Sendejo ($1,300,000) - 7 
 Jordan Hicks ($9,000,000) - 4 
 Jordan Matthews ($1,800,000) - 7 

If the Eagles cut Sendejo, he would no longer count toward the comp pick formula, and Hicks would therefore no longer be cancelled out. Instead, the above cancellation chart would look like this:

Players lost (APY) - Projected round Players gained (APY) - Projected round 
 Nick Foles ($22,000,000) - 3L.J. Fort ($1,633,333) - 7 
Golden Tate ($9,375,000) - 4 
 Jordan Hicks ($9,000,000) - 4 
 Jordan Matthews ($1,800,000) - 7 

So the Eagles would have an extra (projected) fourth round compensatory pick for the loss of Hicks. Got it? OK, good.

So the question surrounding Sendejo during camp will be, "Should the Eagles just keep Sendejo instead of preserving the fourth-round comp pick?"

On the one hand, the Eagles are a Super Bowl contender, and if they really like Sendejo as a third safety, then OK, just keep him. On the other hand, Sendejo is a box safety and sort of an oddball fit in this defensive scheme, and, you know, is he even good anymore?

In my view, there are better options at safety who wouldn't have cost the Eagles a fourth-round pick. We'll see how it plays out with Sendejo during camp.

Tre Sullivan

Sullivan got a lot of playing time down the stretch when the Eagles started playing a lot of three-safety sets. He went from a special teamer-only who never saw the field otherwise, to a guy who saw a small handful of snaps, to a regular contributor.

 Tre SullivanSnaps Snap percentage 
Falcons 0 of 70 0% 
Buccaneers 0 of 58 0% 
Colts 0 of 59 0% 
Titans 0 of 71 0% 
Vikings 0 of 62 0% 
Giants 3 of 65 4.6% 
Panthers 3 of 59 5.1% 
Jaguars 2 of 64 3.1% 
Cowboys 22 of 69 31.9% 
Saints 6 of 70 8.6% 
Giants 32 of 62 51.6% 
Redskins 23 of 45 51.1% 
Cowboys 31 of 99 31.3% 
Rams 30 of 76 39.5% 
Texans 41 of 65 63.1% 
Redskins 26 of 45 57.8% 
Bears 48 of 64 75.0% 
Saints 39 of 77 50.6% 

While injuries certainly played a part in Sullivan's increase in playing time, it seemed that he earned more trust from Jim Schwartz along the way. Apparently not, considering the Sendejo signing.

Blake Countess

The Eagles selected Countess in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, but he did not make the final 53-man roster, and the Rams promptly scooped him up off of waivers. Countess played in 37 games for the Rams, collecting 44 tackles and two interceptions, mostly as a reserve and special teams contributor.

The Rams waived Countess because he was going to count for $2 million on their cap in 2019, but they reportedly hoped to bring him back at a cheaper number. Instead, the Eagles claimed him on waivers.

Deiondre' Hall

The Eagles traded a seventh-round pick for Hall, and he spent the entire season on the 53-man roster. Despite the absurd number of injuries in the Eagles' secondary (including at safety), Hall played a grand total of six defensive snaps. If Howie Roseman gets bored one day during camp, maybe he'll trade Hall to his old buddy Joe Douglas for some other back of the roster guy.

Godwin Igwebuike

Undrafted free agent of the Bucs in 2018, two career tackles.

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