With the Philadelphia Eagles’ OTAs beginning on Tuesday morning, it’s important to stress that these early spring workouts are voluntary.
That word has lost its meaning when it comes to these scenarios though, as most NFL teams experience a near-100-percent attendance record from all corners of the roster.
It’s why the absence of veteran defensive back Malcolm Jenkins, one of the leaders of the Eagles, is so puzzling.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter was the first to report that three-time Pro Bowler skipped out on the first day of OTAs. It keeps up with the theme of him missing Philadelphia’s offseason workout program earlier this month for the first time in his 11-year career.
While it cannot be overstated that these events are voluntary, Jenkins’ absence was “notable,” according to Schefter.
“Obviously, as you guys know, I’m not going to get into any personal conversations that we’ve had,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said (h/t NBC Philadelphia). “It is a voluntary program and Malcolm is one of those guys that’s a leader of the football team and not concerned with him. We’re going to keep our focus on the guys that are here and get better today.”
Jenkins will not face actual punishment for missing team activities until June when the Eagles hold their three-day minicamp. Failure to attend would result in a $88,630 fine, per the NFL’s CBA.
If the trend continues into training camp, he could stand to lose $40,000 per day.
Could Jenkins be hinting at something with this absence?
The 31-year-old has developed into one of the best defensive backs in the league with 11 interceptions and 418 combined tackles over his five-year stint with the Eagles.
He’s also played in 98.4-percent of defensive snaps during that stretch.
And while he’s nearing the end of his prime — if he’s not already past it — Jenkins isn’t necessarily being paid like the premier safety that he’s been in the NFL.
Under contract for the next two years, he’s making $8.1 million in 2019 and $7.6 million in 2020. Per Spotrac.com, five safeties around the league are making more than him in each of those next two years.
Could that play a factor in this early holdout? It’s too early to tell. After all, it is only May.
However, this is something to keep an eye out for as we inch toward June.