Less than 24 hours after the Eagles’ season came to an end, safety Malcolm Jenkins made it perfectly clear he will not be back with the team in 2020 unless his contract is addressed.
“I won’t be back on the same deal,” Jenkins said in front of his locker on Monday. “That won’t happen.”
Jenkins has one year remaining on his current contract, but already approached the club about an extension last spring. The three-time Pro Bowler skipped voluntary spring workouts with the team before showing up for mandatory minicamp, vowing to focus on the season at hand.
He was all business, as usual, playing all 1,098 of the Eagles’ defensive snaps – plus special teams. Jenkins’ ironman streak extends to the 2017 playoffs, and he’s seldom come off the field since signing with the team in 2014.
“I’ve reached a point where I’ve done what I can,” said Jenkins. “At this point it’s up to my agent and management.
“I let my soul bleed every time I touch the field, sacrifice myself, do whatever I’m asked to do, so I’m content with doing my part. The rest will fall where it does.”
Jenkins is currently owed a base salary of $7.6 million in 2020. With over $3 in remaining prorated bonus money, plus per-game incentives worth an additional $250,000, his cap hit rises to over $10.8 million.
Seven NFL safeties currently carry a higher cap hit for 2020. Eight are owed a larger base salary. And of those players, only one other is entering the final year of his deal.
“You set your value on the market,” said Jenkins. “The market’s good for safeties right now. I consider myself to be in the top tier of that group and I’d like to be compensated for it.”
While Jenkins wants to be paid like one of the top safeties in the NFL and have the security of a multi-year deal, he acknowledged there’s a balance between making as much money as possible and being in the right situation.
“I want to be valued, I want to be compensated for what I think I’m worth, but I want to win, I want to be in a good locker room,” said Jenkins. “I’m a prideful person who enjoys to compete and win, but I’m not a dummy either.
“At this point in my career, I weigh all those things before I make any decision.”
It’s unclear how Jenkins intends to force the Eagles’ hand, though he made it sound as though a holdout is potentially on the table. If he refuses to rejoin the team and the front office is unwilling to reach an extension, it’s possible he could be traded as well.
“Something will happen,” Jenkins said. “I don’t know what it will be. Obviously there’s a lot of different ways it could go.
“All the things are kind of open, but at this point I feel like I’ve put together a good season. I’ve done everything I could to try to prove my worth and hopefully that works out.”
The problem, as the Eagles may see it, is Jenkins turned 32 in December. While he had another fine year, finishing with 90 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 8 pass breakups and 4 forced fumbles, naturally there’s concern his abilities are on the decline.
Jenkins admits he’s always pondering his future, but has managed to stay relatively healthy and doesn’t sound like somebody who’s close to retirement.
“I just finished 11 (seasons),” said Jenkins. “I told myself I would make it to 10 and go year to year after that as long as my body felt good, the money was what I wanted and the team was a team that I enjoyed being on.
“I’ll play for as long as I can, and right now I’m physically able, I still love the game. I’d love to be here, but I understand this is a business, so I’m good right now.”
The Eagles must also manage nostalgia while gauging whether Jenkins can viably live up to a new contract for the next few years. After the 2008 season, the organization left Hall of Fame safety Brian Dawkins leave as a free agent to Denver, where he played at a high level for another three years.
Jenkins isn’t quite in Dawkins territory, but he’s meant a lot to the Eagles the last six seasons. Still, there’s no sense that owner Jeffrey Lurie is pushing for a deal that allows him to retire with the team.
“Usually you don’t talk to ownership about contracts,” said Jenkins. “I have a great relationship with Mr. Lurie, but no, me and him personally haven’t talked about any contract since the spring.”
The two sides enter the offseason at an impasse but Jenkins is confident somebody in the league will see his true value.
“I’m not one to beg and I’m a very prideful person, so I feel like what I put out there this year, what I put on tape, what I’ve given to this team is more than enough,” said Jenkins. “I can’t do anymore, so for me, I feel good about that, that that will be good enough for me to go into this offseason with certainty that I’ll be fine.”