As training camps get underway across the NFL, several star players are holding out for new contracts. Ezekiel Elliott. Michael Thomas. Melvin Gordon.
Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins would’ve been in great company. Instead, he opted not to join the list.
Jenkins did show displeasure with his contract situation in the spring, choosing to skip voluntary workouts with his team. But when push came to shove, the three-time Pro Bowler was at mandatory minicamp in June, and the expectation was he would show for the first day of training camp, too.
It didn’t sound like it was a very difficult decision to make, either.
“It’s important to me to win,” said Jenkins following Thursday’s practice. “At the end of the day, I owe it to my teammates, I owe it to myself to be able to come out and compete, and it’s what I love to do.”
To be fair, he’s in a very different situation than the aforementioned holdouts, all of whom are on their rookie contracts and not paid in line with the premier players at their respective positions. Jenkins currently carries the fourth-highest cap hit for a safety in 2019, fifth in terms of base salary.
But Jenkins’ 32nd birthday is approaching in December, 2020 is the final year of his current deal and — in addition to his generally stellar performance — he’s played something like 99 percent of the defensive snaps since joining the Eagles in ’14. He has both the urgency and a strong case to try to force the organization’s hand.
Rather than pout, Jenkins downplayed the topic.
“I’m not talking about the contract stuff,” Jenkins said. “At this point, I’m here looking forward to getting better individually and making this team better.
“It’s not about me when I step out here.”
One season removed from a Super Bowl championship, the Eagles also enter this season as a trendy pick to make it back to the big game. Their odds certainly increase with the versatile Jenkins, whose role in the secondary includes playing safety, nickel cornerback and a hybrid linebacker of sorts.
Yet, Jenkins was even cagey discussing the team’s talent level and ceiling, stating that it’s too early to say everything will come together the way it did in 2017.
“Obviously on paper we’ve got a lot of great names, a lot of guys that have played a lot of ball, but that wins you nothing,” Jenkins said.
“We don’t win games based off of what people say about us, we don’t lose games based off what people say about us. We win or lose with our preparation and what we do on this field, so that’s where the focus is.”
Jenkins is all business. But now that the calendar has turned to July and football season is fast approaching, that business is hoisting another Lombardi Trophy — not adding to his bank account
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