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Eagles were very wise to choose Malcolm Jenkins over Jairus Byrd

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Not a headline you would have expected a few years ago.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Remember in 2014 when the Eagles had a huge need at safety and a lot of people wanted the Birds to sign Jairus Byrd in free agency? And remember how the Eagles ended up with a supposedly lesser player named Malcolm Jenkins?

Take a look at a sampling of comments from when the Eagles officially signed Jenkins:

Anonymous BGN commenter No. 1

Ugh. Should’ve been Byrd.

[Jenkins] can’t cover and can’t tackle.

Anonymous BGN commenter No. 2

sorry to inform u guys

But we got played…we got Jenkins they got byrd

Whoops.

With the benefit of hindsight, it’s now clear as day the Eagles made the right decision by steering clear of Byrd. The 30-year-old safety has been a huge bust for the Saints since signing a ridiculous six-year, $54 million contract. And now New Orleans will reportedly cut him soon.

Jenkins, meanwhile, has been awesome for the Eagles. The 29-year-old Jenkins has barely missed a snap. He signed a much-deserved contract extension last offseason after being named to his first Pro Bowl. Jenkins is also a valued leader on the team and he does great work in the community.

Let’s take a look back at how Byrd and Jenkins compare since 2014.

Byrd - 32 starts, 110 tackles, 3 interceptions, 6 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 sack, 0 defensive touchdowns

Jenkins - 48 starts, 193 tackles, 8 interceptions, 33 passes defensed, 4 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, 1 sack, 4 defensive touchdowns

Jenkins was a MUCH better player at $4 million less per year than what Byrd was making. Big credit to Howie Roseman or Chip Kelly or Jeffrey Lurie or Tom Gamble or whoever was responsible for this signing.

Ultimately, there are lessons to be learned from how this Jenkins-Byrd situation played out. Just because a player (Byrd) is considered to be a top free agent doesn’t mean they’re a lock to work out (also see: Nnamdi Asmougha, Byron Maxwell). And just because a player has bad PFF grades (Jenkins) doesn’t he’s doomed to be a failure.

Free agency is a risk. Just because a player has success on one team doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be successful elsewhere. You have to account for supporting casts, coaching staffs, schemes, etc. In the case of Jenkins, he was clearly a much better fit for Philadelphia than he was for New Orleans.

With 2017 NFL free agency coming up soon, the Eagles might benefit from the lessons learned from signing Jenkins. They don’t necessarily need to go after the top wide receiver, for example. There might be a player out there who can excel in Philly more than they did with their previous team(s). Or at least that would be ideal.