The Eagles are seriously in need of help at safety. There is no denying that an upgrade would greatly help the Eagles defense get to the next level. With Pat Chung likely to get kicked to the curb and Nate Allen possibly leaving in free agency, the front office is going to need a veteran presence at the position.
Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins has five years of experience and a Super Bowl ring on his resume. On top of that, he has started 63 games in his career. He has done all of this at the age of 26 and will not turn 27 until the last two weeks of the 2014 regular season. He could an appealing option for the Eagles in several ways.
Jenkins was selected in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft out of Ohio State. A three-time All-Big Ten selection, a Thorpe Award winner and 2008 consensus All-American, Jenkin was taken with the 14th overall pick in the annual selection process. He was drafted as a cornerback and played the position during his rookie season. He appeared in 14 games (six starts) as a rookie and collected 55 tackles, four pass breakups, an interception and two forced fumbles. He also won a Super Bowl during his first season.
He was converted to free safety in his second season. During his sophomore campaign, Jenkins started all 15 games that he appeared in and had 64 tackles, a sack, 12 pass breakups, two interceptions and a forced fumble. He earned a second-team All-Pro selection for his efforts.
From 2011-2012, Jenkins started all 28 games he appeared and collected 171 tackles, a sack, 16 pass breakups and an interception. He dealt with a hamstring injury in 2012 that made him miss three games. He bounced back this past season, as he played and started in 15 games while securing 68 tackles, 2.5 sacks, six pass breakups, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.
Appeal to Eagles
Jenkins is 6-foot and 204 pounds, so he has size at the position. Still just 26, Jenkins could sign a long-term second-tier safety contract and be solution for several years. He has the ability to cover and can play nickel well.
While he may not be the first option to replace a starting cornerback, he can play the position and can be trusted in nickel situations. He can make plays and has had 4.5 sacks, six interceptions and six forced fumbles on the season. He also has a winning pedigree.
Appeal to Jenkins
The Eagles have cap space and the ability to make a long-term deal happen. Jenkins is from New Jersey and may welcome being closer to home. The Eagles are a young team that is trending upward and Jenkins could find the franchise desirable from that perspective. He may also have to wait it out to see who wins the Jairus Byrd and T.J. Ward lotteries, so if the Eagles act quick with a nice offer, the connection could be made easy.
If the Eagles want to avoid the top-tier players and big contracts, Jenkins could be one of their main targets in free agency.
If Jenkins is forced to wait out for Ward and Byrd to get deals, he may get antsy and take one of the first offers he gets.