The Philadelphia Eagles have already had a successful offseason even before free agency and the draft have gotten started. And that’s because the Eagles have made a point to re-sign some of their own key players, and often and what will prove to be lower than market value.
That has obviously been a priority of Howie Roseman, the once and future general manager who is once again in charge of Eagles personnel less than a year after losing a power struggle with former coach Chip Kelly. Roseman learned the trade under the tutelage of former Eagles president Joe Banner, who always made a point to re-sign his own players before their contracts ran out and they had a chance to hit the open market in free agency.
The latest veteran to remain the nest is safety Malcolm Jenkins, who signed a four-year extension worth $35 million, with $21 million guaranteed. The deal, which runs through the 2020 season, also enabled the Eagles to save about $1.6 million in salary cap for the upcoming season – from $7.2 million to $5.6 million — so it was a win-win situation for the player and the team.
Jenkins was entering the final season of the three-year deal he signed in 2014, when he signed with the Eagles after spending the first five seasons of his career with the New Orleans Saints. Jenkins immediately became one of the Eagles’ best players an a much-needed leader on defense and the Eagles have now rewarded him for that.
That signing also sent a message to the rest of the team, as did the earlier re-signings of four other veterans – tight ends Zach Ertz and Brent Celek, tackle Lane Johnson and defensive end Vinny Curry.
“It felt good to know that I was on that list of players they feel like they can build around to win a championship,” Jenkins said. “It gives your players confidence that if you play well, if you produce, then you’ll be rewarded.
“It builds that camaraderie,” Jenkins added, “and when you have that consistency with leaders in the locker room over time, you build on that and you develop culture.”
And that, of course, is something that was lacking under Kelly. Even though the former coach stressed culture over system, his players on the Eagles never felt that sense of unity simply because Kelly got rid of so many productive players, like wide receiver DeSean Jackson, running back LeSean McCoy and guard Evan Mathis, and failed to replace them with players who were as productive.
Many Eagles players didn’t believe Kelly was in their corner and if they made a mistake or simply didn’t fit the Kelly mold then they would be gone. And changing that perception has been one of Roseman’s primary goals now that he’s back in power.
The Jenkins signing is a perfect example of that. Not only has he been productive on the field, he’s one of the leaders in the locker room, a player everyone else likes and respects. The Eagles have one of the youngest teams in the league and Jenkins is a much-needed spokesman for the fans and media. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s been a steadying force on a team that’s gone through much upheaval that last couple of seasons. Jenkins has started every game in his two years with the Eagles this past season led the entire NFL in defensive snaps, as he was on the field for 1,214 of a possible 1,216 defensive plays. Jenkins finished the season with a team-high 120 combined tackles, including a team-high 92 solo tackles, and ended up with his first Pro Bowl berth.
“I’ve had the two best seasons of my life, personally,” Jenkins said. “It’s been the healthiest I’ve been in my career, and my career has really started to take off. I feel like I’m just catching my stride, and timing is everything in this league.”