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What can Saints fans expect from their reunion with Malcolm Jenkins?

Brandon Gowton from Bleeding Green Nation joins us to discuss.

Buffalo Bills v New Orleans Saints Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

We knew Malcolm Jenkins from his first stint with the New Orleans Saints, but we haven’t watched Jenkins closely for the past few years. But you know who has? Fans of the Philadelphia Eagles.

So we reached out to Brandon Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation, SB Nation’s site covering the Philadelphia Eagles to discuss what Eagles fans think about the Saints recent reunion with Malcolm Jenkins.

Was there any report or information that the Philadelphia Eagles were attempting to retain Malcolm Jenkins this offseason?

The Inquirer did a nice job of detailing the Jenkins contract saga.

Here’s how it was explained:

“To get Jenkins to report for mandatory minicamp in June, owner Jeffrey Lurie met him at the NovaCare Complex and made two promises: that the Eagles would begin negotiations on a new deal during the bye week, and that if they couldn’t come to an agreement during the following offseason, they would grant his release before free agency. Roseman would lock up guard Brandon Brooks and tackle Lane Johnson in November, but aside from a few cursory conversations, talks with Jenkins never materialized. […] Both Jenkins and the Eagles had expressed some hope in January that he would return, but a separation was ultimately a foregone conclusion. What happened behind the scenes wasn’t much different than what transpires before there is a split: a difference of opinion regarding value. Jenkins didn’t want top safety money or an average salary of $12 million to $13 million, as had been reported elsewhere. He was under contract with the Eagles for one more season at $7.6 million. He wanted a higher salary, of course, but what he wanted most was a two-year commitment. The Eagles offered to “tweak” his salary for 2020, but that was far as negotiations would get this offseason. That was the indication to Jenkins and his people that he wouldn’t get a new deal with guaranteed money in 2021, and they asked for his release before free agency.”

What roles did Jenkins play on the Eagles defense?


Here’s how Pro Football Focus broke down his snaps from 2019:

Box — 431

Slot cornerback — 266

Free safety — 208

Defensive line — 158

Wide cornerback — 12

And now in visual form (contrasted to Vonn Bell):

As you can see, Jenkins largely served as a box safety/quasi-linebacker. But his versatility to effectively wear a number of hats shouldn’t be undervalued. Neither should his leadership as the captain of the Eagles’ defense.

Reports are the Saints signed Jenkins to a four-year, $32 million dollar deal, with $16.25 million guaranteed. Do you think this was an overpay, a bargain, or just about right?

I think it’s a bargain. I made the case for the Eagles to pay Jenkins in May of last year.

$8 million annually makes Jenkins the 15th highest paid safety on an annual basis. There are not 14 NFL safeties more valuable than him.

Jenkins nearly checks all the boxes. Talented, extremely durable, incredibly versatile, great leader, you name it. And that’s not to mention his great contributions off the field in the community.

Jenkins is getting up there in age, getting ready to enter his age 32 season. Do you have any indication he’s running out of steam? Did his production seem to decline as the year went on?

For reference, here’s a look at Jenkins’ snap counts since joining the Eagles in 2014.

2014 — 1,164

2015 — 1,204

2016 — 1,018

2017 — 1,151

2018 — 1,177

2019 — 1,131

It is fair to wonder about the state of his body given that he’s played so many snaps and turns 33 in December. It’s possible he could break down sooner than expected. Jenkins obviously takes pretty good care of himself, though. I tend to think he still has a decent amount of gas left in the tank. It’s not like he’s in his prime but I don’t believe he declined as the season went on last year. Just the opposite, really; he made some big plays down the stretch. One such instance was strip-sacking Daniel Jones to help the Eagles clinch the NFC East with a Week 17 win.

What are your overall thoughts about Jenkins on the New Orleans defense?

It’s already a bummer to know Jenkins won’t be back with the Eagles. It’s even more annoying that he’ll now be helping out a competitor in the same conference. And not just any NFC competitor, but a team the Eagles have specifically struggled to beat. The Saints bringing Jenkins back to New Orleans only makes them even better.

It’s just a shame that Jenkins couldn’t finish his career in Philly. He was a great fit here in many ways. I can confidently say the Eagles wouldn’t have won Super Bowl LII without him. He’ll always be a legend in this city.

Thank-you to Brandon for your time in answers our questions. Saints fans, make sure you check out the great work of Brandon and the rest of the folks over at Bleeding Green Nation. You can follow Bleeding Green Nation on Twitter @BleedingGreen, Brandon @BrandonGowton, and as always, you can follow me @ChrisDunnells.