Jenkins: 'I'm not your typical safety'
Malcolm Jenkins was selected by the New Orleans Saints with the No. 14 pick in the 2009 draft. (USA Today Images)
The Eagles contacted Malcolm Jenkins early in the free agent process. The two sides quickly agreed to a deal (see story). Both Jenkins and the Eagles seemed pleased about that.
The Saints, meanwhile, didn’t seem too broken up. They went out and grabbed Jairus Byrd, regarded by many to be the top free-agent safety. That’s the flip side here.
The Saints selected Jenkins with the 14th pick in the 2009 draft. He was a second-team All-Pro in 2010. By 2014, he was a free agent. So what happened with Jenkins in New Orleans? And when did he realize that he and the Saints would part company this offseason?
“Early in the process,” Jenkins said. “There really was no conversation about moving forward with the 2014 season. I kind of knew I was going to look forward to starting fresh somewhere else.”
The Saints also started fresh. New Orleans signed Byrd to a six-year deal worth $54 million, $28 of which is guaranteed. The Eagles got Jenkins for considerably less: Three years, $16.25 million ($8.5 million guaranteed). Does that bother Jenkins?
“That team, if you see what they’ve done this offseason, they’ve made a lot of roster changes,” Jenkins said. “They have a vision in which they want the team to go. But it doesn’t in any way hurt my confidence or put any doubt in my belief. I’m really excited about being here. I think this is what I needed right now. I’m about winning and being successful. I’m looking forward to getting a fresh start here in Philly.”
Jenkins, who entered the league as a cornerback and was later converted to safety, described himself as someone who was able to cover receivers or tight ends, blitz when needed, or play deep and serve as the quarterback of the defense. He said he’s not “your typical safety” and labeled himself more of a “hybrid the league is moving toward” with bigger, faster guys at the position.
Jenkins said he’s fine with a three-year contract for less money than some of the other safeties got in free agency. He also said he doesn’t have anything to prove. But when asked about the perception that he misses tackles, Jenkins admitted his game could be polished in that area.
“I’ve made a bunch of plays in my career, game-changing plays,” Jenkins insisted. “I think everybody has something to improve on. If you were to ask me what are my biggest thing I need to improve on, I would say tackling. And I think that’s only happened over the last couple of seasons. I think that has something to do with a little change of scheme and a little change of positions that I was in. But I don’t see that being a problem going forward.”
He’s had two defensive coordinators the last two years. This upcoming season, he’ll learn from a third on an entirely new team. It’s not the ideal trajectory for someone who was so highly regarded coming out of college. At this point, does Jenkins think he’s lived up to the expectations associated with being the 14th-overall selection just five years ago?
“It depends who you’re asking,” Jenkins said. “If you ask me, I think so. One thing about the draft is, I didn’t make me draft me at that point. That’s just where I fell. But I think so. What I brought to the Saints and what I meant to that team was worth it, and I don’t think you can get anyone who was with that organization to say different.”