There’s no need to beat around the bush. The headline says it all:
The Eagles need to do the right thing and do what it takes to make Malcolm Jenkins happy.
Though Jenkins himself hasn’t explicitly voiced displeasure, there’s obviously evidence to suggest he’s not satisfied with his current contract situation. After all, he is not attending voluntarily OTAs for the first time in his entire career. The possibility he could skip June’s mandatory minicamp — which would incur an $80,000ish fine — also hasn’t been ruled out. And it’s probably not just a coincidence that Jenkins is posting Twitter videos that demonstrate his value to the team.
Jenkins isn’t wrong to believe he’s undervalued. He’s currently the league’s ninth highest paid safety in terms of annual value at $8.75 million. The final two years on his current contract contain base salaries of $8.1 million and $7.6 million with zero dollars in guaranteed salary (per Over The Cap).
One can only speculate what Jenkins is looking for in terms of compensation. Whatever the case, though, he’s worth it.
The Eagles MUST pay him.
Those reluctant for the Eagles to pay Jenkins will trot out the “honor the contract!” line. That’s a bad justification to not pay Jenkins because every single NFL team fails to honor contracts every offseason. Teams cutting players in order to clear cap space is an extremely common occurrence.
There are also those who will say paying a player with two years left on his deal sets a bad precedent. In a vacuum, I can understand that argument. As a team, you don’t want to have to keep giving guys even more money just a couple years into their long-term extensions.
In the specific case of Jenkins, though, I don’t think the bad precedent is rewarding a player who’s already under contract for two more seasons. Rather, the bad precedent would be the Eagles failing to reward a player who has gone so far above and beyond the call of duty.
You don’t need me to tell you how valuable Jenkins is to the Eagles ... but I’ll do it anyway.
- Jenkins is a two-time Super Bowl champion, three-time Pro Bowl selection, and a one-time second-team All-Pro safety.
- Jenkins is the Eagles’ heart and soul of the team as their defensive captain and most vocal locker room leader. He’s the kind of player who can help turn a season around. We just saw this in 2018 when Jenkins called on defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz to simplify the team’s defense in a Week 12 win over the Giants. The Eagles were down 19-3 to New York and it was looking like their season might be over until Jenkins intercepted Eli Manning. That pick was a turning point for a team that came up just short of advancing to a second straight NFC Championship Game appearance.
- Jenkins is an incredibly versatile player. During the Eagles’ Super Bowl season, for example, Jenkins played 42% of his snaps at linebacker, 30% at nickel cornerback, 24% at safety, and 4% at outside cornerback.
- Jenkins is arguably the toughest and most durable son of a gun on the entire Eagles roster. He didn’t miss a single defensive snap last season. Here’s a breakdown of Jenkins’ snap counts since first signing with the Eagles:
2014 — 1,164
2015 — 1,204
2016 — 1,018
2017 — 1,151
2018 — 1,177
All of this doesn’t even include the outstanding work Jenkins does off the field. He won the Byron “Whizzer” White Community MVP award in 2017, which is the highest honor the NFLPA can bestow upon a player.
If paying Jenkins now means the Eagles are setting a precedent where they have to reward players who are similar to Jenkins in the future, that’s a great “problem” to have. As a team, you should want your young players to emulate this role model who majorly contributed to the franchise’s first ever Super Bowl victory.
With Jenkins missing OTAs and Rodney McLeod still recovering from ACL/MCL injuries, the Eagles are currently running with Andrew Sendejo and Tre Sullivan as their first team safeties. That’s just not going to cut it when September gets here.
It’s my belief the Eagles will do the right thing and reward Jenkins at some point. Maybe it’s something like what they did with Brandon Graham’s contract back in 2017. Maybe it’s something even more lucrative than that.
The bottom line is: the Eagles need to pay that man his money.