Eagles restructure Jenkins' contract

Posted: February 21, 2012

Cullen Jenkins took a pay cut and was happy to talk about it.

The Eagles "restructured" the defensive tackle's contract and released the information through a news release.

Typically, that does not happen.

But the team's announcement and Jenkins' willingness to talk with reporters during a conference call Tuesday reflected the collegial nature of negotiations, because neither side wanted a parting of the ways.

But with Jenkins slated to earn $7.5 million in total salary for the coming season - all of which would have counted against the Eagles' salary cap number - there was the possibility the team could have released the 31-year old.

It was unclear whether the Eagles were willing to cut Jenkins - one of the few "Dream Team" free-agent signings from last summer to live up to expectations and one who became a locker-room leader - but he said he knew at the end of the season that his contract would have to be reworked if he wanted to return.

"I'm actually pretty relieved, because I was worried sitting there playing a waiting game," Jenkins said. "You're hearing all the rumors about people saying, 'They're going to release him and they're not going to pay him.' "

Jenkins still will receive a $5 million roster bonus due March 13 - the official start of the new league year. But his base salary for 2012 was reduced from $2,500,000 to $820,000, according to an NFL source.

He will make significantly less in 2013, however, with a guaranteed base salary of $1.5 million (down from $4 million) and a roster bonus of $1 million (down from $2.5 million). The original five-year deal he signed last July also was trimmed to four years.

Jenkins called the deal more "realistic," however, and said it gave him the opportunity to retire as an Eagle.

"I'm not one of those types of players that bounce around, try to get as much as he can get," Jenkins said. "I wanted some security. I wanted to be somewhere that I liked and that liked me."

Playing on coach Jim Washburn's pass rush-oriented defensive line, Jenkins recorded four sacks in his first three games last season. Though he notched only 11/2 sacks in the final 13, he still had many moments in the Eagles' defensive tackle rotation.

Jenkins often was the voice of reason emanating from the locker room after the team's - especially the defense's - sluggish start.

"We are very excited about having Cullen back on our football team," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said in a news release. "Cullen made an immediate impact for us this year on and off the field. We look forward to a great future together with him in an Eagles uniform."

The new deal will give the Eagles $1.68 million in additional cap space. Jenkins was asked whether he thought his new deal would allow the Eagles to sign some of their free agents, namely wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

"Definitely," Jenkins said. "If by me doing this it can help the team in any way, that's something that you have to feel good about. Obviously, we have to wait and see what direction the team wants to go in."

The Eagles have two defensive tackles - Derek Landri and Trevor Laws - who will become unrestricted free agents on March 13. They tried to work out an extension with Laws last year, league sources said, but ultimately decided to put off in-season contract talks with any of their free agents. Landri could have other suitors.

Antonio Dixon, who suffered a season-ending torn triceps last October, is a restricted free agent. The Eagles are likely to tender Dixon, who is expected to be ready for spring practices.

Jenkins' co-starter in the middle, Mike Patterson, underwent brain surgery last month to correct an arteriovenous malformation, but Eagles coach Andy Reid said recently that the defensive tackle is expected to be healthy by the start of training camp.

A few notable defensive tackles could be on the open market next month, but the Eagles may choose to address their needs in the April draft that is said to be deep at the position.

Jenkins, though, will be back.

"I want to finish my career as an Eagle," he said.

Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745, jmclane@phillynews.com, or @Jeff_McLane on Twitter.

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