Eagles Sent a ‘Voluntary’ Message from Malcolm Jenkins
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - It's over three months until the Eagles play a game that actually counts so worrying about Malcolm Jenkins right now is probably not the best use of time for the organization's fan base.
Howie Roseman and Jake Rosenberg should take notice, however, because Jenkins is not the type to miss work to price out sconces or stay across the country because San Diego is well San Diego.
Malcolm shows up for work, voluntary or not. He's the guy who doesn't miss snaps, never mind practices or games so when the veteran Pro Bowl selection does miss time, it's a clear signal.
And in this case the message isn't exactly nuanced.
Jenkins signed a four-year, $35 million extension with Philadelphia three years ago with $21M of that guaranteed. He is on the books for an $8.1M base salary in 2019 and a cap hit of nearly $11.4M. The guaranteed money on his current deal has dwindled, though, and includes just $1.75M in bonuses for 2020, the final year of the deal.
During that same time, the safety position as a whole has spiked from a salary perspective with lesser players like Landon Collins, Tyrann Mathieu, Lemarcus Joyner and Adrian Amos cashing in due to timing and circumstance.
At 31 with the dearth of guarantees moving forward that screams extension or, at the bare minimum, a tweak of is current contract for Jenkins even if it's only guaranteeing the majority of the remaining money on his deal and perhaps offering some incentives on top of that.
None of this should be viewed as a crisis, however, because veterans of Jenkins' ilk hardly need offseason. The Eagles, meanwhile, understand his value to the defense as a whole. Although Fletcher Cox is the most talented member of the team on that side of the ball Jenkins is arguably the most important and has played every position in the back seven with the exception of Mike LB over the past two seasons.
Last season 973espn.com spoke to Jenkins' position coach, Tim Hauck, who explained just how unique Jenkins is.
"Malcolm is a special player," Hauck explained. "He not only understands his position but he understands the whole defense, the entire scheme. That's why he can handle any role. It's not like you have to coach him up to play the slot or LB next to Nigel [Bradham]. He already knows what to do. He makes it his business to know what to do."
To be clear Jenkins' absence is simply a player using what leverage he does have to work out the best situation for him in an industry where there is a short shelf life to make a lot of money.
Coach Doug Pederson, a longtime player himself, understands that better than most and downplayed Jenkins' jockeying.
“As you guys know, I’m not going to get into any kind of personal conversations that we’ve had,” Pederson said when asked about his star safety. “It is a voluntary program and Malcolm is one of those guys, leader of the football team and I am not concerned with him."
The first-team at safety on Tuesday was the newly-signed Andrew Sendejo and Tre Sullivan, the former playing in Rodney McLeod's single-high role and the latter handing Jenkins' box-heavy approach. McLeod is still rehabbing from a torn ACL that wiped out much of his 2018 season. Next in line were Deiondre' Hall at strong safety along with Blake Countess and Gidwin Igwebuke at FS.
For now the coaching staff will use the added reps that are usually Jenkins' to evaluate the younger players and see if they can push for roles beyond special teams.
"We’re going to keep our focus on the guys that are here and get better today,” Pederson said.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen