Take a breath everyone. Yes, the loss of Malcolm Jenkins is a massive gut-punch. The heart and soul of the Eagles for six seasons played every down on defense for the last two years. At 32-years-old however, and in the search of a new deal, Jenkins and the Eagles agreed to part ways.
Jenkins was due to make only roughly $8 million in his final year with the Eagles. He had confirmed that he was going to hold out for a new contract. He played in every game for the Eagles since coming to the team in 2013. Jenkins had 63 solo tackles with eight passes defensed, four forced fumbles and 2.5 sacks. Instead of paying Jenkins his dues, the Eagles decided to let him walk. Cue the angry flock of fans and reporters.
First, let’s take a step back. This is not the first time the Eagles have let go of a leader and star within the organization. Brian Dawkins did not finish his career with Philadelphia. Neither did Harold Carmichael, nor did McNabb. In the end, the general rule of thumb for organizations is to let players go a year before they run out of gas. Jenkins wanted close to $14 million + on a new deal. He will be 33 during the season. Sometimes the best thing an organization can do is to not pay the older franchise player and move on from him.
To compare, in 2007 the Pittsburgh Steelers let their leader, Joey Porter walk. They wanted to move on with a younger roster. Pittsburgh ended up having the #1 defense in the NFL in 2008 and ended up winning a Super Bowl. This is not uncommon. Or how about in 2003 the Patriots trading Lawyer Milloy right before the season started. What ended up happening? The Patriots went 14-2 and won the Super Bowl. Milloy and Porter were both highly productive players for their teams. The Steelers and Patriots moved on because they realized the better plan would be to get younger.
Now I will say, if the Eagles refuse to replace Jenkins and do nothing in the secondary, then the questions will rightfully come up. But take a step back. Howie Roseman knows that they have to retool the team to get younger and faster. One of the ways to do that is to let the older players walk. The Eagles still have close to $30 million in cap space and 10 upcoming draft picks. The off-season has LITERALLY just begun. This is not the end of the world. Howie Roseman has already retooled the defensive line with the signing of Javon Hargrave. There are still many corners and safeties on the open market.
Eagles fans have every right to be sad today. Jenkins was a true professional and was a fantastic locker room leader. He will be missed in midnight green. This will not be the only move made during the off-season though.
Take a breather everyone. This isn’t the end of the world and won’t be the only thing that Howie Roseman will be planning to do. There is a plan and the Birds will be better for it.