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Jenkins Wanted In For The Long Run

Posted Feb 22, 2016

Malcolm Jenkins entered the 2016 NFL offseason with one year remaining on his Eagles contract. Some players in his situation would prefer to play the season out and perhaps test the free agent waters to see what the open market looks like.

Jenkins had no such desires.

He knew that Philadelphia was where he wanted to be, so on Monday the Pro Bowl safety and the Eagles agreed on a new five-year contract, keeping Jenkins in an Eagles uniform through the 2020 season. In fact, it was Jenkins himself who kick-started the process shortly after the season finale in January.

“I reached out to my agent at the end of the season, a few weeks back, and just really expressed to him that Philly is a team that I really want to be on for the long run,” Jenkins said during a press conference on Monday. “Obviously, I had one more year left before facing free agency and a lot of unknown. I told him that if the feeling was mutual, that I’d love to do something long term. It went from there, and obviously Mr. (Jeffrey) Lurie, Howie (Roseman) and Doug (Pederson) really felt like they started to build around players that they had already in the building.

“You saw some of the other guys already got extended, so it felt good to me to know that I was on that list of players that they felt they could start to build around to win a championship, and like I said that feeling was mutual and I’m really looking forward to the opportunity.”

Jenkins joins Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Lane Johnson and Vinny Curry on the list of Eagles to sign new multi-year contracts since the season ended. According to Jenkins, seeing these core players rewarded for production has not gone unnoticed by players on the other players on the roster.

“It give your players confidence that if you play well and you produce, that you’ll be rewarded,” said Jenkins. “So it builds that camaraderie and when you have consistency with leaders in the locker room, over time you build on that and you develop culture and develop camaraderie more than just the X's and O's. When you look at that model across the NFL, those who use it normally do well. A lot of the playoff teams that we saw this year have that same model where they build off of guys that they drafted and they build off of players that they want for their future, and then they add where needed.

“I think that philosophy changed more than anything else this offseason, it's probably the thing that’s spoken the most volumes and that guys in the locker room have been paying the most attention to. It gives you incentive or more ‘want to’ to be in this building and be an Eagle. You get proud of having that logo on your chest.”

It’s not surprising that the Eagles wanted Jenkins to stick around. Over the last two seasons, Jenkins has racked up 233 total tackles and nine interceptions. He’s also returned two of those interceptions for touchdowns, including a 99-yarder in a win against New England in 2015. The Piscataway, New Jersey native has seen his career flourish in his two seasons in the City of Brotherly Love.

“Ever since I got here to Philly, I’ve had the two best seasons of my life, personally,” Jenkins said. “My career has really started to take off. I feel like I’m really just catching my stride. Timing is everything in this league, and I think it’s the perfect time for not only myself but for this organization to really start putting things in places to get to the next level, and I like I said, I’m really excited about being a part of that plan.

“Being here the last two seasons, I’ve been able to play in a system that really complemented my skill set really well and it’s led to higher production and better seasons, but it’s also a situation where I’ve kind of been pushed to the forefront to be a leader. That’s something that I did previous to that, but not like the roles I’ve had here. I think that’s made me a better teammate. That’s made me a better player.”

Though he was very comfortable playing under former coordinator Bill Davis, Jenkins and the rest of the defense will see a scheme change in 2016 under the new leadership of Jim Schwartz. Heading into his ninth season, Jenkins explained that he’s been able to have success for a number of different coordinators, and he and the rest of the Eagles are champing at the bit to see what comes next under Schwartz’s attacking scheme.

“When we played together and played well, we were pretty much ranked in the top five in almost all important categories. That’s not by accident,” Jenkins said. “We have good players in the building already to really be a dominant defense. I think that there are some pieces that we made need to change or address or shift around, but for the most part, I think we have what we need.

“When you add a coach like Jim Schwartz and his defense and his track record of having really good defenses, especially upfront, and I think that’s where our strength is – up front. I think that will take us to the next level, to really be able to let those guys lose and have them be a lot more productive. I think it’s going to be great, so we’re all looking forward to get to the point where we can actually talk football around here, because right now we can’t talk about the playbook, we can’t talk about schematics, but when that window does open up, I think everyone’s excited and everyone will be all ears to hear about how we’re going to attack this new season.“

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