We’ve talked a lot the past couple of months about Malcolm Jenkins and his absence, and presence, at the Eagles OTAs and mandatory minicamp as it related to his current contract situation.
Following a meeting with team owner Jeff Lurie a couple of weeks ago, Jenkins at least felt comfortable enough with his position on the team, and the respect he’s earned among the locker room and organization, to show up for minicamp and participate with his teammates.
After last Tuesday’s minicamp practice, Jenkins told reporters, “One of the reasons that I feel comfortable being here is because of my relationship with Jeff Lurie and understanding that I do feel valued and respected.”
While we don’t know exactly what transpired in that meeting, Lurie was reportedly able to explain that the organization was close to finalizing a big extension for quarterback Carson Wentz, and as Jenkins noted, there were “two” other guys eyeing bigger and better deals as well causing some pause from the front office.
Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer suggested that those two guys are Lane Johnson and Zach Ertz, both of whom are signed through 2021 and are equally as important to the team’s success the past couple of seasons. And while precedent setting among his teammates isn’t really his concern, Jenkins is aware of how those things can impact the business decisions made by the team.
Lurie and the Eagles’ front office may be focused on keeping their homegrown (and younger) talent in Philly, but the departure years ago by Brian Dawkins — and subsequent talent loss at the safety position for the years that followed — is, at least in part, going to affect how Malcolm Jenkins is valued among the organization.
“Lurie and Jenkins have developed a bond over the last five years, partly because of the latter’s social activism and work in the Philadelphia community, but mostly because of the former’s appreciations for the veteran’s contributions on the field and in the locker room.
The last time they had a safety of similar importance, and it was time to do business, the Eagles bungled it, and Brian Dawkins left. Lurie was sensitive to repeating the misstep, not only because of optics but also because the team had a significant void at the position until Jenkins arrived in 2014.”
Dawkins leaving the Eagles organization will probably end up being the biggest blunder of Lurie’s entire ownership. Sure, the team did whatever they could in the years that followed to make it up to him — and he finally won a Super Bowl ring as a staff member in 2017 — but fans will never forget that he spent the last few years of his NFL career wearing a different team’s jersey.
Jenkins has filled a similar leadership role with the Eagles’ secondary that Dawkins did, and has become an integral member of the larger Philadelphia community. Jenkins has also proven critical in various positions throughout the defense as his teammates sustained injury-after-injury the past two seasons.
Despite being one of the older players on the team’s roster, his production hasn’t slowed at all, and he doesn’t think that his age should affect his future earnings. So, while we don’t know exactly what Lurie and the team’s plan is to keep Jenkins happy, they’re clearly focused on making sure he’s part of the offseason workouts and trying to keep things from getting contentious.
Here’s hoping the two sides can come to some kind of agreement to keep Jenkins happy and in the building for the foreseeable future.