Philadelphia Eagles: Malcolm Jenkins is heading back to New Orleans

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

After elevating his game considerably with the Philadelphia Eagles, Malcolm Jenkins is heading back to the New Orleans Saints to chase a third Lombardi Trophy.

While Malcolm Jenkins will surely go down as one of the best players in the modern-era of Philadelphia Eagles history, he wasn’t always.

No, when Jenkins entered the league all the way back in 2010, he did so as a member of the New Orleans Saints.

A four-year contributor at cornerback at The Ohio State, Jenkins appeared in 16 games for the Saints at cornerback, including an eventual Super Bowl XLIV victory. He eventually transitioned to safety, where he established himself as a solid contributor before elevating his play considerably over six seasons with the Eagles.

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Sean Payton called Jenkins joining the Eagles a huge mistake – one he presumably wishes he could have back in hindsight.

Fortunately for Payton, it looks like he just remedied that decision.

One day removed from the Birds’ controversial decision to formally part ways with Jenkins, Ian Rapoport broke the news that a reunion in the Big Easy was in the cards, if not downright imminent.

On paper, this move made a ton of sense, as the Saints’ starting strong safety – ironically another former Buckeye, Von Bell – is set to hit the open market and Jenkins provides a clear upgrade despite being seven years his senior. Slotted in across from ascending free safety Marcus Williams, the Saints now have arguably the best safety tandem in the NFL, a moniker that once belonged to the Eagles.

Jenkins can also serve as a mentor for 2019 fourth-round pick Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, a cornerback/safety hybrid player who actually flashes a similar style of play to the soon-to-be 12th-year-vet. Whether running a three-safety big nickel package or shifting CGJ and/or Jenkins into the slot full-time, the Saints now have three starting-caliber safeties going into the 2020 season to pair up with two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Marshon Lattimore.

And as for the Eagles? Boy oh boy is this a bad look.

While one can debate for hours whether Howie Roseman made the right call letting Jenkins walk, the prevailing logic for the anti-Jenkins camp has been that he’s simply too old to earn an eight-digit payday over the next two seasons. Clearly, the Super Bowl-contending Saints feel otherwise and explicitly targeted Jenkins to bolster a secondary that will have to face off against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers twice a year moving forward.

Moving Jalen Mills certainly checks the ‘getting younger’ box on Roseman’s wish list, and at $5 million, he frees up additional cap room to make more moves (in theory), but can the Eagles really guarantee the former seventh-round pick can not only seamlessly transition to a new position but do so at the same level as Jenkins (more on that here)? That’s a tough ask for any player.

Next. Replacing Malcolm Jenkins with Jalen Mills is crazy. dark

In a way, Malcolm Jenkins’ return to New Orleans feels right. Like Drew Brees, he only has so many more years left to play in the NFL and this move puts him in the best position to succeed in 2020 and beyond. The Saints identified a veteran leader at a position of need and locked him into a contract to both bolster their secondary and help elevate a young corp of ascending players. Hopefully, this move doesn’t come back to bite the Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs.