Safety First: Eagles agree to 3-year deal with Malcolm Jenkins

Safety First: Eagles agree to 3-year deal with Malcolm Jenkins

Just one hour into the start of free agency, the Philadelphia Eagles made the move everybody was anticipating. Whether it's the player everybody wanted remains to be seen.

No, it's not Jairus Byrd or T.J. Ward, but it is a safety. The Eagles have agreed to terms with Malcolm Jenkins on a three-year contract worth $16.25 million as first reported by Adam Schefter for ESPN. Jeff McLane for the Inquirer adds that $8.5 million is guaranteed.

Earlier today, we ranked Jenkins as the fourth-best safety available in free agency.

Jenkins makes sense on a number of different fronts. First of all, the Eagles are unwilling to break the bank in free agency. The top safeties like Byrd and Ward are expected to earn between $7-9 million per year, where Jenkins' deal pays him closer to $5 annually.

The Eagles were also looking for safeties in Jenkins' size and age-range. The New Jersey native comes in at 6'0", 204 pounds and is only 26-years-old.

Versatility was one of the keys as well. The Eagles defense utilized safeties in a lot of man-to-man coverage last year. Jenkins, a 2009 first-round pick out of Ohio State, is a converted cornerback and is perfectly comfortable in that role.

Jenkins recorded 2.5 sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles in 14 starts for the Saints in 2013. However, he ranked dead last among all safeties in "coverage snaps per reception," 56th out of 63 safeties in run-stop percentage and 62 out of 67 in tackling efficiency according to metrics site Pro Football Focus.

A change of scenery could help Jenkins though. While his career in New Orleans was a roller coaster for sure, he was also part of some pretty horrid defenses in his time there. And despite what PFF's signature stats suggest, Jenkins was good enough to start and contribute in the league's No. 2 pass defense in 2013.

Personally, I like the signing. Jenkins has raw ability that this coaching staff can mold. With the right tutelage, the Eagles could get more out of him than the Saints ever did. He's young and has all the tools, so the upside is still there. He also doesn't create turmoil with the Birds' budget.

No, it's not Byrd or Ward, but those players weren't going to instantly turn around a secondary that ranked dead last versus the pass in '13 like some people seem to think. Neither will Jenkins, but for the price, he's only expected to be one piece of the puzzle, not the answer to every problem.

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

ap-sixers-will-smith.jpg
AP

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- The sprawling city skyline could have been the highlight of the Sixers' team dinner at One Liberty Place on Monday night. Instead, it was a surprise celebrity appearance that left them in awe.

Will Smith, who is part of the Sixers’ ownership, caught the players off guard when he visited with the team to offer advice and answer questions.

“Man, that’s one of my idols,” Nerlens Noel said following the first training camp session at Stockton University. “Everything he said I really took in and all the guys did too.”

Rather than entertaining the group with his acting or musical skills, Smith imparted important lessons that are applicable in sports. The 48-year-old has had decades of success across multiple platforms, and he offered pieces of wisdom that can resonate in any situation. 

“If you have bad people around you, that’s how people see you and that’s how you are,” Joel Embiid said. “He said to have good people around. That’s the main thing I got from that.”

The Sixers had differing memorable moments the morning after Smith’s visit, which demonstrated how many topics he addressed with the team. 

“He’s a good guy,” Ben Simmons said. “I definitely learned a lot from hearing him talk … You’ve got to look at things from a positive and negative with every situation.”

Jahlil Okafor was especially caught up in Smith’s appearance. Smith is Okafor’s favorite actor, most notably for his role in I Am Legend, and impressed Okafor with his character. 

“We already know about his accolades and how smart he is and obviously he’s an entertaining person,” Okafor said. “But it just seemed like he really wanted to be there to help us out. I just took away that he was a great person.”

Okafor also added, “It just helps [to hear from him] because the road to success is pretty much the same. It’s about being focused, it’s about knowing that you’re going to be knocked down, you’re going to fail. That was one of the messages that Will Smith shared, was expect failure but the main thing is to get back up.”

Noel previously had seen Smith courtside at Sixers games, and this was his first opportunity to hear directly from him. Noel listened to everything Smith had to say, from how to deal with the media to ranking his best and worst movies. 

“Never get caught up in too much of the negativity,” Noel recounted. 

While people view professional athletes as celebrities, the Sixers were on the opposite side Monday evening. 

“It’s hard to get starstruck nowadays,” Noel said. “But when you see Will Smith, it’s a whole different ballgame.”

Tonight's lineup: With only RHPs left, could Ryan Howard start every game?

Tonight's lineup: With only RHPs left, could Ryan Howard start every game?

If healthy, Ryan Howard is expected to start all three games in the Phillies' final series of the season Sept. 2-4 at home against the Mets.

He might also start the entire Braves series.

The Phillies' final six games are all against right-handed starting pitchers: Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz and Josh Collmenter in Atlanta; Robert Gsellman, Bartolo Colon and Noah Syndergaard with the Mets. That could mean six starts for Howard before his time with the Phillies expires.

Howard's batting average has been below .200 for practically the entire season, but he's been much better since the All-Star break, hitting .259/.325/.598 with 11 homers, five doubles and 25 RBIs in 123 plate appearances (see game notes). He went 0 for 6 in his last two starts but homered in each of his two previous starts to reach 23 for the third year in a row.

Here's the Phillies' full lineup Tuesday against Teheran:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Roman Quinn, LF
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Ryan Howard, 1B
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Aaron Altherr, RF
9. Jerad Eickhoff, P

Matt Kemp is out of the Braves' lineup.

1. Ender Inciarte, CF
2. Adonis Garcia, 3B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Nick Markakis, RF
5. Tyler Flowers, C
6. Jace Peterson, 2B
7. Dansby Swanson, SS
8. Mallex Smith, LF
9. Julio Teheran, P

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