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Malcolm Jenkins' new contract with the Saints raises a lot more questions than it answers.
One thing is clear: This clearly wasn't about the money.
Here's what we know:
-> Jenkins was due to earn $7.85 million from the Eagles in 2020, the final year of a four-year, $35 million restructure he signed before the 2017 season.
-> Jenkins said in January he wouldn't play here in 2020 under terms of that deal. A source familiar with his thinking told NBC Sports Philadelphia he wanted a deal in the neighborhood of $13 to $14 million and wanted to be one of the five highest-paid safeties in the league.
-> After the Eagles cut ties with Jenkins on Tuesday, he agreed to contract terms just one day later with the Saints.
-> Jordan Schultz of ESPN reported Wednesday evening that Jenkins' deal with the Saints is worth $32 million over four years, with incentives that could bring the total value to $35 million. It includes $16.25 million in guaranteed money. Not only is he not one of the five highest-paid safeties in the league, he's 17th.
The #Saints have agreed to terms with safety Malcolm Jenkins, per source.
The terms are as follows:
Four years, $32M - up to 35 max - with $16.25 guaranteed.
— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) March 18, 2020
If Jenkins was so adamant about making top-five safety money, why did he sign so quickly with the Saints for a deal averaging more than $5 million LESS than he was looking for?
If Jenkins was willing to play for $8 million a year - and we don't know the annual base salaries yet but the earlier years are likely worth less than the later years - why didn't he just stay here? He may have actually taken a pay cut.
If Jenkins was cool with $8 million a year, why not just stay here? And if all it took to sign him was $8 million a year, why wouldn't the Eagles just pay him that?
There's only one conclusion, and that's the Eagles just didn't want Jenkins to be an Eagle anymore.
And it sure seems like the feeling was mutual.
Jenkins is an all-time great Eagle. Three Pro Bowls in six seasons, a huge part of the 2017 Super Bowl defense, an unquestioned leader in the locker room (at least unquestioned by anybody other than Orlando Scandrick).
But he's also 32 years old on a team whose general manager is committed to a youth movement and building for the long-term, not the short term.
"We need to infuse youth in this team," Howie Roseman said on Jan. 7. "You have to let young players play."
And he added: "One of my weaknesses is getting attached to our players."
So Jenkins is back with the Saints, who drafted him in the first round out of Ohio State back in 2009.
And the Eagles move forward without a guy who in many ways was the heart and soul of this team for the last half decade.
It should be a sad, emotional farewell, but all the evidence says this is exactly how both sides wanted it to end.
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One clear conclusion from Malcolm Jenkins' Saints contract originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia