The NFL is full of oversized egos, so it’s rare to hear anyone in a position of power be this open and transparent about a mistake they’ve made.
Sean Payton isn’t shy about this one.
The Saints made a mistake when they let Malcolm Jenkins walk after the 2013 season. Since then, Jenkins has become a two-time Pro Bowler and led the Eagles to a Super Bowl title.
Here’s what Payton said about Jenkins on a conference call with Philly reporters this week:
I said this and I just said it recently, probably one of the bigger mistakes we’ve made. You gotta be able to look at them and say, ‘how did that happen?’ But letting him out of the building certainly wasn’t a smart decision.
In the 48-7 drubbing at the hands of the Saints in November, Jenkins was seen giving Payton a one-fingered salute after Alvin Kamara beat him for a touchdown on a wheel route on fourth down in a blowout.
But Payton, when asked, said that didn’t bother him at all and the two talked after the game.
“He’s one of my guys and I mean that,” Payton said.
Jenkins, 31, has proven his worth to the Eagles this season as he remains the only healthy member of the starting secondary. He has played a major role in keeping the unit together and getting them playing much better. It’s hard to quantify his importance to the Eagles’ defense.
He was pretty important to the Saints once too, which makes it all the more curious they didn’t re-sign him.
“He was probably one of the most important parts to our Super Bowl run and it was his rookie season,” Payton said. “I told him after the game (in November) I love him and I know that the feeling’s mutual. I just have a ton of respect for him as a player and also as a person. He’s a fantastic player and just as good of a person.”
The Eagles should be thankful the Saints made that mistake five years ago. They’re lucky to have Jenkins.
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