He wasn’t supposed to be here, but there he was on the field Tuesday wearing his familiar Eagles jersey No. 27 and, later, standing in front of his locker like he has done countless times before, patiently answering each and every question reporters lobbed his way.
Malcolm Jenkins did not stay away from the start of the Eagles’ mandatory minicamp like it was reported in various outlets. Nor does he plan on staying away when training camp begins in late July.
“For me, I think they understand the value that I bring,” said Jenkins. “I feel respected, which I think is the biggest part. As a player you want to make sure that you are valued and that you feel respected. There is a business side of it and there are things involved there. At end of day I think everybody wants to win.
“I love being an Eagle, I love being here, I love this team, this locker room and I want to be a part of it, and that’s why I’m here…I’m here because I want to be here. I was looking forward to getting back on the field, so I’m excited.”
The veteran safety isn’t very excited about his contract, though. It is the reason he chose not to participate in voluntary OTAs and team workouts.
“As a player, I feel like I’ve outplayed that contract, but there’s a business side of this game and those things come with negotiations, but it has nothing to do what I put out on the field and I’ll continue to do that,” said Jenkins.
Jenkins signed a contract extension two seasons ago and it still has two years to run. In the offseason, however, several safeties were awarded contracts in the $14 million range, pushing Jenkins down to the 10th highest paid safety in the league.
“When you’re under contract, you can’t be the highest paid out there, nor do I wanna be, but you want to be in the ballpark of what your value is,” said Jenkins. “I can’t control that.”
Jenkins said his strong relationship with Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie is one reason he showed up for the mandatory portion of the offseason.
“We’ve talked,” said Jenkins. “I think that’s one of the reasons I feel comfortable being here because my relationship with Jeff Lurie and understanding that, I feel valued and respected and that isn’t always the case for players in this league but I understand what that means. We’ve talked.”
It wouldn’t come as a surprise if a reworked contract happens sooner rather than later, given the Eagles’ way of taking care of players they value on and off the field. Jenkins said that conversations between his representation and the Eagles’ front office are ongoing.
He said that it was immediately after the season ended that his agent reached out to the Eagles about doing something regarding his contract.
Jenkins has made 80 straight starts since coming over from the New Orleans Saints in 2014 and has played virtually every snap in that time.
Given that workload, Jenkins said there was an added benefit to staying away from the voluntary part of the offseason.
“For me it wasn’t all just the contract,” he said. “I’ve been to every OTAs since I started my career and I’ve used the time off, took that time, traveled a little bit, took care of some of my other endeavors, really to mentally take a break from the game. I think that was equally important.”