How much money is Malcolm Jenkins looking for?
Something in the $14 million range should get it done.
Jenkins said Monday he won’t play in 2020 under his current contract, and a league source familiar with the thinking of Jenkins and his agent said Jenkins is seeking a deal not too far below the one Bears safety Eddie Jackson signed on Saturday.
According to Spotrac, the top five safeties in the league average between Earl Thomas’s $13.75 million per year and Jackson’s $14.6 million per year, and that’s the range Jenkins is looking at.
Two recent extensions bumped Jenkins out of the list of 10-highest-paid safeties in the NFL, based on average annual salary.
The Bears made Jackson the highest-paid safety in NFL history when they gave him a $58.4 million extension that included $33 million guaranteed.
That deal kicks in with the 2021 season and runs through 2024. Seen as in terms of new money — which is how the deal will be viewed — it’s a four-year deal averaging $14.6 million per year.
The Titans back in July gave Kevin Byard a five-year deal worth $70.5 million with $33 million guaranteed, and that $14.1 million average is second-highest in the league.
Jackson is 27, has made two Pro Bowls in a row and has 10 interceptions in three seasons. Byard has only made one Pro Bowl in four seasons but has 17 interceptions over the last three years and is 26.
Jenkins has one year left on the four-year, $35 million restructure he signed before the 2017 season. He’s due $7.6 million in base salary and a total of $7.85 million next year.
Jenkins’ contract current annual average of $8.75 million per year is now 11th-highest among safeties, according to Spotrac.
Additional extensions could bump him down lower than that.
Jenkins has made the Pro Bowl in three of the last five years, but he’s also 32, and his level of play dropped a bit in 2019. He had 3 ½ sacks, including one Sunday, but didn’t have an interception and has only one INT in his last 43 games.
It’s a tricky situation for the Eagles.
Jenkins is one of the most popular Eagles of his generation and an unquestioned locker room leader. He hasn’t missed a game or a practice in his six years here, and he hasn’t missed a meaningful snap over the last five years.
Because of his stature in the locker room, his Pro Bowl resume and the fact that the Eagles don’t really have anybody else to play safety, Jenkins has more leverage than a lot of players might in the same situation.
Heck, the only other safety on the roster who's signed for next year is Marcus Epps.
Jenkins is still a very good player, but $14 million a year for a 32-year-old safety who has shown early signs of trending downward is an awful lot of cash, and it’s hard to imagine the Eagles would go that high.
But the last thing the Eagles want is a protracted holdout next summer and the distractions it brings.
Jenkins is adamant he’s not playing for $7.85 million next year.
If the Eagles are willing to talk? Jenkins would be, too.
Reshad Jones is a good comparison. He’s the 6th-highest-paid safety in the league, two Pro Bowls in 10 seasons, and he’s 31. He’s three years into a five-year deal averaging $12 million.
A deal averaging $12 million per year would get Jenkins into the No. 6 spot among safeties.
A deal worth $11 million per year would move him up to 7th-highest-paid safety.
And a $10 million annual average gets him back into the top 10.
Is Jenkins underpaid at $8.75 million per year? Yep.
Would he be overpaid at $14 million per year? Yep.
It seems most likely the two sides will eventually meet in the middle, somewhere in the $11 ½ to $12 million range is a good guess.
All that’s certain is that it’s best for everybody if this is resolved sooner than later.