Safety Jenkins joining Eagles in 3-year deal

Malcolm Jenkins , 26, has been on the Eagles' radar for "quite a while." Getty Images
Malcolm Jenkins , 26, has been on the Eagles' radar for "quite a while." Getty Images
Posted: March 13, 2014

The Eagles moved quickly in their pursuit of a safety Tuesday when they agreed with Malcolm Jenkins on a three-year deal in the first hour of free agency. The Eagles also re-signed punter Donnie Jones and released safety Patrick Chung.

Jenkins, 26, a first-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in 2009, has started 63 games over the last five seasons. His contract will total $16.25 million with $8.5 million guaranteed, according to a league source.

The Eagles have struggled to find a solution at safety since they decided not to retain Brian Dawkins in 2009. This is the biggest investment they have made at the position.

Coach Chip Kelly studied Jenkins as he prepared for the Eagles' opening-round playoff loss to the Saints and was impressed by the versatility of the 6-foot, 204-pound native of North Jersey.

"He can line up at either safety spot, can come in and make a tackle, and can play man-to-man as well," Kelly said. "He's a sharp kid and is ultracompetitive. We are really happy to have him in Philadelphia."

Jenkins came into the NFL as a cornerback out of Ohio State and moved to safety after his rookie season. General manager Howie Roseman said the Eagles have had their eyes on Jenkins for "quite a while." Roseman, who has made a point of emphasizing locker-room culture, noted that Jenkins was a two-time defensive captain with the Saints and lauded his character.

Jenkins won a Super Bowl with the Saints after the 2009 season and was a second-team all-pro in 2010. His production has been uneven at times, although he remained a regular starter in New Orleans. Jenkins recorded 68 tackles, 21/2 sacks, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles last season. He also missed 16 tackles, according to Pro Football Focus.

In a Tuesday interview with the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Jenkins said the Saints did not offer him a deal to stay, so he needed to move on from the city where he met his wife and where his daughter was born. Jenkins said that the Eagles told him he was "No. 1 on their list."

The Eagles can only hope that the Jenkins signing works out better than their one season with Chung, whom they signed on the first day of free agency last March. Chung, 26, started 10 games in an injury-riddled season and was never the answer in the team's ongoing search for a safety. Chung was due to make $3.25 million this season, so his release was expected.

Another expected move was keeping Jones, who stood out for the Eagles in his first season in Philadelphia. The 33-year-old punter signed a three-year deal worth upward of $6 million, according to a league source.

Jones set single-season records with a 40.3-yard average on net punts and 33 punts downed inside the 20-yard line.

"Donnie was tremendous for us last year and had one of the best seasons I have seen by a punter," Roseman said. "What you love about Donnie is his consistency, and he's always working to perfect his craft. He's a great fit in our locker room and he's another guy we wanted to make sure we brought back."

Kelly said the move "continued our trend of re-signing our core players," which has been an emphasis of the team during the offseason.

The Eagles still need to improve their defense. Free agency started on Tuesday and the team made one splash. Look for the Eagles to try to upgrade their pass rush and further bolster their secondary in the coming days.


zberman@phillynews.com

@ZBerm

Staff writer Jeff McLane contributed to this article.

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