Eagles Sign Safety Malcolm Jenkins

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Eagles have filled one of their safety holes with 26-year-old free agent Malcolm Jenkins.

It’s a three-year, $16.25M deal with $8.25M guaranteed, a league source tells Tim McManus.

The key word with Jenkins (6-0, 204) is versatility. He was originally a first-round pick out of Ohio State back in 2009 and played cornerback in college. According to Pro Football Focus, he played more slot snaps than any other safety in the league last year for the Saints.

“We really liked Malcolm’s versatility,” said head coach Chip Kelly in a statement. “He can line up at either safety spot, can come in and make a tackle and can play man-to-man as well. I had a chance to study him on tape leading up to the playoff game and really liked what I saw. He’s a sharp kid and is ultra-competitive. We are really happy to have him in Philadelphia.”

The addition of Jenkins will give the Eagles some versatility when teams try to spread them out because he has the ability to take on slot receivers and tight ends. He also could serve as Brandon Boykin’s backup at nickel.

On the other hand, the Eagles need him at safety first and foremost. And Jenkins has done little to distinguish himself in that respect. Playing downfield, he hasn’t proven to be much of a ball-hawk with six interceptions in six seasons. According to STATS, LLC, he had a total of eight passes defensed/intercepted in 2013. That ranked tied for 31st among safeties.

Jenkins played in the box 37.7 percent of the time on run snaps, per PFF (26th-most among the 63 safeties who played at least 50 percent of the snaps). But he wasn’t much of a playmaker there, coming up with a stop just 2.6 percent of the time (56th out of 63 safeties).

PFF had him down for 16 missed tackles, fifth-most among safeties. And he ranked 62nd out of 67 safeties in overall tackling efficiency.

Per ESPN.com, Jenkins is considered a high-character locker room guy:

Jenkins is widely respected by coaches and teammates as a hard worker and film rat, who has been elected as a defensive captain each of the past two years.

The Eagles released Patrick Chung earlier in the day. Earl Wolff figures to compete for a starting job, but the team could still look to make another move at safety.

“Malcolm is someone we’ve had our eye on for quite a while,” said GM Howie Roseman. “He has been a productive player his entire football career, both in New Orleans and at Ohio State. Everything you hear about Malcolm as a person is true. He was a two-time defensive captain with the Saints and is a high character player. We are excited to add a guy like that to the culture we have established here.”

Bottom line: Jenkins is an adequate, starting-caliber safety with good size and versatility. This isn’t a splash signing, and Jenkins has not shown that he has a Pro Bowl ceiling. But he should fit well into the locker room culture Chip Kelly is trying to establish.

Click here for the All-22 breakdown we did on Jenkins a few weeks ago. And click here for our running open thread with the latest free agency news.

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