Malcolm Jenkins has stated that he wants the Eagles to restructure his contract. Well, it looks like he has a major point.
The Ringer compiled a list of the “Most Underpaid Veterans” on every NFC team. Jenkins, perhaps surprisingly, took the top spot for the Eagles. The veteran safety inked a four-year, $35 million deal back in 2016 to remain in Philadelphia through 20202 with team options.
First, let’s dissect the criteria that The Ringer specified when they put this list together. Only veteran players on multiple-year contracts were considered because these are the guys that often get released, or terminated because the team no longer feels like doling out big money to an aging player. For example, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers released Gerald McCoy in May only three years into his blockbuster six-year deal.
When an NFL veteran signs their second contract (or third, or fourth) they are signing a deal guaranteed for one or two seasons followed by multiple years of team options, according to The Ringer. If the player is overperforming the contract after the first couple of years, the team holds them to the agreement they signed. If the team feels the player is underperforming, the organization terminates the deal with little-to-no penalty. The result is that veterans rarely finish the contracts they sign.
While Jenkins’ contract may look — at least on paper, and definitely appeared lucrative when he first signed it — it has not aged well over time. His average annual salary and bonuses, at $8.4 million, ranks 12th-best among safeties. Meanwhile, Jenkins has continued to perform at an elite level.
Per The Ringer:
Jenkins’ Contract: Four years for $35 million (signed 2016)
The fine print: $21 million guaranteed through three years, followed by team options in 2019 and 2020
Total guaranteed at signing: $16 million (10th among safeties)
Average annual value: $8.8 million (ninth among safeties)
2019 salary and bonuses: $8.4 million (12th among safeties)
“I know this, when the chips are down, you’ll be able to count on Malcolm Jenkins,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz told reporters in June. “And a lot of other guys we’re trying to find that out about, and that’s what they’re doing here at this time of year. Malcolm has some of those credits already in his bank account.”
Has Jenkins outperformed his contract? It sure seems like he can state that case. Since 2014, he has played in more games (80 total games) than all the players making more money than him, including Tyrann Mathieu, Landon Collins, Earl Thomas, Reshad Jones, LaMarcus Joyner, Harrison Smith, Devin McCourty and Adrian Amos. Jenkins also has three Pro Bowls to his name during that span, putting him only one behind the top guy on that list.
It should be noted that the 31-year-old has seen virtually no drop-off in his play. Jenkins suited up for all 16 regular-season games in 2018 and his 97 total tackles were the second-highest mark of his career. In addition, Jenkins’ 10 total tackles in the playoff loss to New Orleans led the entire team. He was also a force to be reckoned with in stopping the run.