Just one hour into the start of free agency, the Philadelphia Eagles made the move everybody was anticipating. Whether it's the player everybody wanted remains to be seen.
No, it's not Jairus Byrd or T.J. Ward, but it is a safety. The Eagles have agreed to terms with Malcolm Jenkins on a three-year contract worth $16.25 million as first reported by Adam Schefter for ESPN. Jeff McLane for the Inquirer adds that $8.5 million is guaranteed.
Earlier today, we ranked Jenkins as the fourth-best safety available in free agency.
Jenkins makes sense on a number of different fronts. First of all, the Eagles are unwilling to break the bank in free agency. The top safeties like Byrd and Ward are expected to earn between $7-9 million per year, where Jenkins' deal pays him closer to $5 annually.
The Eagles were also looking for safeties in Jenkins' size and age-range. The New Jersey native comes in at 6'0", 204 pounds and is only 26-years-old.
Versatility was one of the keys as well. The Eagles defense utilized safeties in a lot of man-to-man coverage last year. Jenkins, a 2009 first-round pick out of Ohio State, is a converted cornerback and is perfectly comfortable in that role.
Jenkins recorded 2.5 sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles in 14 starts for the Saints in 2013. However, he ranked dead last among all safeties in "coverage snaps per reception," 56th out of 63 safeties in run-stop percentage and 62 out of 67 in tackling efficiency according to metrics site Pro Football Focus.
A change of scenery could help Jenkins though. While his career in New Orleans was a roller coaster for sure, he was also part of some pretty horrid defenses in his time there. And despite what PFF's signature stats suggest, Jenkins was good enough to start and contribute in the league's No. 2 pass defense in 2013.
Personally, I like the signing. Jenkins has raw ability that this coaching staff can mold. With the right tutelage, the Eagles could get more out of him than the Saints ever did. He's young and has all the tools, so the upside is still there. He also doesn't create turmoil with the Birds' budget.
No, it's not Byrd or Ward, but those players weren't going to instantly turn around a secondary that ranked dead last versus the pass in '13 like some people seem to think. Neither will Jenkins, but for the price, he's only expected to be one piece of the puzzle, not the answer to every problem.