OTAs started yesterday for the Birds and there was one notable absence in the defensive secondary. Safety Malcolm Jenkins was a no-show for the first day of practices, and as reports have suggested, it’s likely because the pro bowl defensive back is seeking a new contract.
If that’s the case, the Eagles should listen and do whatever they can to keep their locker room leader happy.
The Brian Dawkins departure may have been just about ten years ago, but it’s still fresh in my mind, and it still baffles me that the organization let him get away. Dawk clearly had some good football left in him, as he twice made the pro bowl in his three years with Denver. And it took the team nearly five years to find Jenkins as an adequate replacement in 2014.
The Birds have been down this road before, so it would be asinine if they didn’t approach it differently this time around.
Like Dawkins, Jenkins is the undisputed leader of the defense. And he also plays the swiss army knife role for Jim Schwartz similar to how Dawkins was used in Jim Johnson’s scheme. He’s the most valuable player currently on their defense – even more valuable than Fletcher Cox.
While the entire secondary crumbled around him in 2018, Jenkins played every single snap, 1,038 in total. Without him, the defensive turnaround that occurred late in the season probably would have never happened. He played in his natural safety spot, filled in at the nickel, and even played linebacker at times. There aren’t many players like Jenkins around the NFL.
Going into this season, Jenkins is set to make $8.3 million in salary, good for 13th in the NFL among safeties. Under his current contract, he averages $8.75 million per season, good for 10th among safeties. If we take everything that Jenkins does on the field for the Eagles defense into account, his salary is a complete bargain.
I’m not calling for him to be the highest paid safety in the NFL; I don’t think Jenkins would even expect a contract like that. But getting his average salary into the top 5-6 range at the position would be fair and it should make their most valuable defensive asset happy.
With the amount of cap space Howie has been able to free up this offseason, they really have no excuse when it comes to contract negotiations with Jenkins. Many believe the cap space will be used to sign Wentz, which may still happen, but I think even Wentz would say Jenkins is more deserving of a pay raise (in 2019) than he is at this juncture.
Pay that man, Howie, and let’s get the ball rolling in the right direction as we approach training camp.