OTA’s officially kick off today down at the NovaCare Complex but there’s one man who has been confirmed as absent. Malcolm Jenkins. The veteran Safety who has played in 98.4% of snaps since arriving in 2014 hasn’t given a reason for his absence and Doug Pederson doesn’t seem to be concerned either. But OTA absences are typically linked with players trying to gain leverage for a contract extension…not that Jenkins needs it though.
As aforementioned, Jenkins has played in a stunning 98.4% of snaps since he first signed with the Eagles and has become the heartbeat of the Defense. Not only was he a key figure during the team’s Super Bowl run, but in a 2018 season where the entire secondary fell to pieces, Jenkins was the glue that kept a very young group of backups together.
His 97 tackles last year were the most since his 109 tackles racked up in 2015. But matching a career-high in forced fumbles and 8 tackles for loss still don’t do that year justice. Playing down inside the box, Jenkins has become an elite run defender as well as someone who can matchup against Tight Ends and slot receivers without fluttering an eyelid.
It’s not had to make the case for extending Jenkins. He’s now the 10th highest paid Safety in the NFL after an offseason of big bucks being spent at the position and he plays well beyond the rank. But that’s earning $8.1M in 2019, which means if the Eagles were to pay the money Jenkins deserves, he could be set to earn close to double that amount. If that’s the case, then the team would be left with maybe JUST enough cap space, to commit to another extension already in the works; Carson Wentz. But that all depends on the nitty-gritty of said negotiations.
The pride of North Dakota State has had a very exciting start to his NFL career, but it’s been a tale of two halves. On one hand, there’s the man who would’ve been named the 2017 MVP if not for an ACL tear in week 14. There’s the man who even when recovering from the said ACL tear in the toughest of circumstances, with a new offensive coordinator and a stifling offense, still put up numbers that rivaled Tom Brady’s MVP winning campaign in 2017. A man who despite clearly not being 100%, set new career-high in completion percentage with 69%. A man who is the true leader of this team and has done nothing but leave fans breathless on a weekly basis when at his best.
On the other hand, there’s a quarterback who has completed just one full season since entering the NFL. Returning in week 3 after his ACL tear, it was apparent that Wentz wasn’t going to be the same player…for that season at least. But there was a stark contrast in his play that in my opinion (as broken down below) may have contributed to the back injury that ended another promising year.
If the Eagles are ever going to cash in on the ‘value’ of Carson Wentz, it’s now. Dak Prescott, Deshaun Watson and Jared Goff are all destined to receive a hefty payday soon and even though the Eagles did pick up their quarterback’s fifth-year option, keeping him for two more years at least, it could be digging a deeper hole.
Right now, the Eagles have leverage over Wentz, given the fact he’s suffered back-to-back season ending injuries. With one of the most chaotic offenses in the NFL, Wentz fully healthy and working closely with Mike Groh, something he was unable to do last year, the chances of Wentz posting astronomical numbers are incredibly high. So if the Eagles wait one more year, there’s a good chance that Wentz’s value will sky-rocket, leaving a salary cap stricken Eagles forced to pay up.
But if they pay him now, they’re likely unable to extend Malcolm Jenkins, the heartbeat of the other side of the ball. Given the lack of depth at Safety and the fact that Malcolm Jenkins has played in more snaps than any other Eagle in the last five years, this is a truly difficult season. Sure, Jenkins is on the books for two more years, but is now being grossly underpaid.
The Eagles could always backload a deal for cap relief, but Jenkins has already restructured one contract