The Eagles began making preparations for free agency in earnest on Tuesday, announcing the restructuring of defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins's contract. Details are still trickling in right now, but Jenkins was originally set to carry a cap figure of $7.75 million into next season, and another $6.5 mil in 2013 and '14, after earning $4 million this season.
The new deal, which reportedly shaves one of the five years off the contract Jenkins signed back in July, is expected to provide the Eagles some cap relief. However, it also ensures Jenkins, who was a Pro-Bowl alternate this season, will remain with Philadelphia for the foreseeable future -- which he indicated was influential in his decision. Via Roob:
"I want to retire an Eagle. I want to finish my career as an Eagle. That’s definitely something we took into consideration."
Jenkins, who joined the Eagles from the Super Bowl XLV Champion Packers, was one of the few big-name signings from last offseason who actually panned out. He racked up 5.5 sacks, was strong against the run, and became a leader in the locker room as the season progressed. Quite simply, he was one of the top interior linemen in the NFL, and he will be paramount to the club's success for the immediate future.
Originally signed for five years at $30 million, the 31-year-old Jenkins was owed a roster bonus worth $5 million on top of his base salary of $2.5 this season. Update: He agreed to slash his base salary to six figures in 2012 along with the reduction in the length of the contract, but according to Andrew Brandt, Jenkins still receives the entire bonus in March.
Jenkins downplayed the amount of restructuring, but hes believes it could benefit the franchise.
"If by me doing this can help the team in any way, that's something that you have to feel good about."
By all accounts, the Eagles were already under the salary cap by a healthy margin. However, several of their key players are free agents (DeSean Jackson, Evan Mathis), others will be up for extensions in the near future (LeSean McCoy), and most observers anticipate some additional activity in free agency (linebacker?).
Sounds like a great move for both sides. The Eagles get what they want, a good player in an affordable contract, while Cullen Jenkins -- entering his ninth season in the NFL -- gets to stay in a situation where he is comfortable and has a chance to contend for a championship. Considering how well he played last season, we're not so sure his return was ever really in doubt, but it's great to confirm it with this bit of win-win news.