Malcolm Jenkins. (Photo: Getty Images)
When the Eagles extended Carson Wentz’s contract last week, it was cause for celebration at NovaCare. And why not? Locking up their franchise QB for the next six years is a wise move for the Birds and the most significant of their excellent off-season.
But owner Jeff Lurie and GM Howie Roseman must stop patting themselves on the back for a moment to handle one last bit of unfinished business. They need to give safety Malcolm Jenkins a new deal.
Jenkins reported for his team physical on Monday
, despite earlier reports he would miss mandatory minicamp beginning Tuesday. All signs now point to the 31-year-old three-time Pro Bowler being present. It’s no secret he’s displeased with his current contract — which he has vastly outperformed and which contains scant guaranteed future money.
I’ve seen minor contract squabbles escalate to uncivil wars over the years. Fortunately, most of those ended when Joe Banner left the franchise in 2012. Howie Roseman is smart enough to see what must be done here. At least I think so.
Here’s hoping that the next announcement is a new agreement between the Eagles and Jenkins.
Let’s look at the facts:
- In his first five seasons in green, Jenkins played an amazing 98.4 percent of the Eagles defensive snaps – often covering ground for inexperienced or untalented partners in the secondary. Last season he lined up for all 1,177 defensive plays as a safety, linebacker, nickel slot and corner.
- Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz trusts him so much that he’ll let Malcolm make changes to the defense on his own during games. His football intellect, his leadership and his range of skills are superlative.
- His value to the Eagles has only increased. With safety Rodney McLeod fighting back from knee injuries, the alternatives at safety are Andrew Sendejo and Tre Sullivan. Not exactly the second coming of Wes Hopkins and Andre Waters.
Jenkins currently ranks as the ninth-highest-paid safety in the NFL, following an offseason with several splashy signings.
There are those who insist that once a player signs a contract, he should always stick by it, no matter how much he outperforms it. That was a fine opinion... in 1957.
In the current NFL, teams can typically cut players from their contracts on a whim. There are few guarantees. Careers are short, and they can end with one wrong twist on the turf. No one should begrudge Jenkins for seeking what he deserves.
And I suspect the Eagles don’t disagree. The franchise has taken care of older players in the past (Jason Peters, Darren Sproles) and Jenkins warrants every bit as much consideration. I do not doubt that Lurie and Roseman value his outstanding contribution on the field, in the locker room and the community.
The team has $21 million in available cap space, even after the Wentz deal. There’s plenty of room to give Jenkins a bump, a guarantee, and still have enough left for in-season extensions.
Jenkins checking into mandatory minicamp is a positive sign. At this point, I’d be shocked if Eagles management doesn’t get the deal done by the end of this week. It’s the only smart move – and this franchise usually makes smart moves.