Malcolm Jenkins gave everything he had to the Philadelphia Eagles organization, the City of Brotherly Love and their rabid fan base during his six years in midnight green. Then, poof! … magically he was gone.
Jenkins, known just as much for his activism as for his play, had been lobbying the front office hard for a new contract. When he didn’t get a pay raise, the 32-year-old bolted for the New Orleans Saints in free agency.
The money part was secondary, according to Jenkins, as it was more about overall respect and acknowledgment for his service. The three-time Pro Bowl safety will face his former team on Sunday in what should be a “nostalgic” reunion.
“I gave everything I had to that city, the team, did everything the coaches asked me to do, did everything to make the players around me better, try to put my best football out there and it just wasn’t valued that much by those who make the decisions,” Jenkins, via the Associated Press. “So, for me, it was just more of a principle about respect. I really didn’t care what the money was.”
He ended up signing a four-year, $32 million deal with the Saints, not far off from the four-year, $35 million restructured contract he inked with the Eagles in 2017. Jenkins hasn’t been lighting the world on fire this year in New Orleans but he clearly has something left in the tank. He has 62 total tackles (four for loss) along with two sacks, two interceptions and nine passes defensed.
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Eagles Made ‘Tough Decision’ on Captain
Jenkins was the unquestioned leader on defense, not to mention the heart and soul of the city. When Orlando Scandrick ripped the Eagles last year — and specifically targeted Jenkins — the team responded by releasing a video of Scandrick praising the team captain. Burn.
In the end, it wasn’t enough to open up GM Howie Roseman’s checkbook. He let Jenkins walk in free agency, for pennies on the dollar and tried to replace his leadership with internal parts like Jalen Mills and Rodney McLeod, then drafted rookie K’Von Wallace.
You can argue the results but it seemed to come down to more than just money. And Jenkins (intentionally?) left Roseman’s name off his farewell thank you letter.
“It’s a very tough decision,” Roseman told reporters in March, via The Inquirer. “I have no doubt that he’s going to go somewhere and continue to play at a high level. But we’re in a position with our team, we’re going to have to lose some guys. We’ve seen it with teams in our division as well, having to lose guys. It’s just the nature of where we are.”
Rodney McLeod Nominee for Man of the Year
Meanwhile, one of the guys tasked with replacing Jenkins in the secondary has been nominated for Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. The award honors outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field. Jenkins was the Eagles’ nominee in 2019 and Chris Long won the award for the franchise in 2018.
McLeod has long been known for his activism, including his work with the Eagles Social Justice Leadership Council. He has worked tirelessly to combat systemic racism, social injustice, and work on behalf of voter rights. The veteran safety also supports the organization’s many charitable endeavors while working with his own non-profit, Change Our Future.
“I’m incredibly honored to be named the Eagles’ Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year,” said McLeod. “Growing up, I had a lot of people sacrifice to help me get to where I am today. The fact that I have this platform to give back, alongside my family, teammates and the City of Philadelphia, is truly humbling.”