They better know what the heck they’re doing.
The team that let Reggie walk, the team that let Dawk walk, has now let Malcolm walk.
This is not the resolution I expected back on Jan. 7, when Jenkins said on locker clean-out day he wouldn’t play for the Eagles in 2020 under terms of his 2017 contract restructure, which called for $7.6 million in base salary this coming year and averaged $8.8 million per year, making him the 11th-highest-paid safety in the league.
I figured Jenkins wanted to be here, Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson understood his value, and they’d find a figure in the middle, quickly get a new contract done with a significant raise without breaking the bank and we’d all move on to wide receiver and corner.
Jenkins wanted to be one of the five-highest-paid safeties in the league, and it would have taken something in the neighborhood of $13.8 million per year to make that happen.
Jenkins is a three-time Pro Bowler, an unquestioned locker room leader, a fixture in the community, a remarkably durable player on a team where everybody is always hurt.
Is he worth $14 million a year at 32 years old?
Honestly? Probably not.
Because he helped the Eagles win a Super Bowl and played at such a high level and was such a class act, the city grew attatched to Jenkins. We all did.
In an important way, this is different than Reggie and Dawk. The Eagles didn't even attempt to bring those guys back. This time, there was a respectful exchange of ideas, the two sides were just too far apart.
This isn’t cataclysmic. But it still hurts.
I just can’t believe that the Eagles and Jenkins’ agent couldn’t make something work.
Something in between that $8.8 million figure and the $14 million figure. There’s a lot of room there.
If three years at $11.5 or $12 million wouldn’t get it done? I can see where the Eagles are coming from. They have a lot of needs, they have to get younger and something north of $12 million a year for a guy who’ll be 33 by the end of this coming season is a lot. Too much.
But if the Eagles’ best offer wasn’t significantly above that $8.8 million figure? Then they’ve made a serious miscalculation. If they didn’t do everything they possibly could have done to make something work here, then they’ve made a big mistake.
Jenkins isn’t the same player he was a few years ago, but he’s still very good. He was terrific down the stretch this past season, and on a team that had 47 different starters in 2019, he was one of only six to start and finish every game. Since 2017, only Jenkins and Jason Kelce have stared and finished every game.
You don’t bring him back because everybody loves him. You bring him back because he’s still one of the better safeties in the league and one of your best players.
Here are the defensive backs the Eagles currently have under contract: Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Jalen Mills, Avonte Maddox, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Marcus Epps, Rudy Ford, Craig James and Trevor Williams. Sounds like the Eagles will give Mills a shot at safety. Rodney McLeod is back, and that's big. Still, barring some front-office mastery these next few months, this secondary won't be as good without No. 27 back there.
They’ll draft guys and they’ll sign guys and they’ll add guys, but that hasn’t gone too well lately for this team in the secondary.
They desperately need defensive backs, and they just let a pretty good one walk.
We’re two days into free agency and Howie has certainly kept his promise to get younger. But as we’ve all seen in the past, getting younger doesn’t always mean getting better.
There’s only one way Roseman can guarantee this wasn’t a grave mistake. That’s to go out and find some defensive backs who can play. Who can help this team win another Super Bowl.
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