The first day of free agency is likely over for the Philadelphia Eagles. To the surprise of many, it was a relatively quiet day for Howie Roseman, Chip Kelly and company.
The Eagles signed just two players (and released safety Patrick Chung, as expected). One was expected, their own player, who agreed to a contract shortly after 4 p.m. The other was a starting safety...just not who many fans hoped for.
No, the Eagles did not sign either Jairus Byrd or T.J. Ward, the two big-name Pro Bowl safeties on the free-agent market. The former just signed a six-year deal with the New Orleans Saints, while the latter agreed earlier this evening to a contract with the Denver Broncos.
The Eagles signed former New Orleans Saints first-round pick Malcolm Jenkins to a three-year deal worth $16.25 million, including $8.5 million guaranteed. Jenkins is expected to be one of the two starting safeties for the 2014 season (and beyond).
Jenkins, 26, is the player whom I predicted several hours ago that the Eagles would sign. He's a significant upgrade from Patrick Chung, but realistically speaking, he's not much more than an average starter. In fact, you could easily argue that Jenkins is a below-average starter. He ranked 65th of 86 starting safeties in 2013, per Pro Football Focus. He allowed a 103.3 passer rating and missed 16 tackles, the fifth-highest total among safeties.
|Malcolm Jenkins PFF Grades By Year|
|Year||PFF Grade||Safety Rank||Passer Rating Allowed||Missed Tackles|
|Pro Football Focus|
Despite his low grades at PFF, Jenkins has solid potential. He's only 26 years old. He collected 2.5 sacks, two interceptions and forced two fumbles in 2013. He's never played all 16 games in a season, but he's missed just eight games in five years. He was also a second-team All-Pro selection in 2010, his second year.
He also has the ability to play either safety position, plus slot cornerback and even outside cornerback. Chip Kelly loves versatile players, and the Eagles really need depth in their defensive backfield. Jenkins could move to corner in case of an injury, where he would be a huge upgrade over Roc Carmichael, the team's fourth cornerback from 2013. He could also replace Brandon Boykin in the slot, if needed.
Jenkins likely isn't going to make a Pro Bowl but neither will Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher or Connor Barwin, and they were both solid pieces of the defense in 2013. Fan longing for an impact player, the next Brian Dawkins, is understood, and I admit to feeling that frustration. But Jenkins hasn't even stepped onto the field yet. Let's wait and see what the former first-round pick can do under defensive coordinator Billy Davis.
Besides, did you want the Eagles to give $28 million in guaranteed money to Jairus Byrd? Neither did I.
As for the Eagles' other signing, it was both expected and a good move. Veteran punter Donnie Jones turned in a tremendous year in 2013, setting a franchise record for punts downed inside the 20-yard line. He came up with huge punts at the end of the game against Washington in Week 11 and against Dallas in Week 17. His contract, a three-year deal worth $5.5 million with approximately $1 million guaranteed, is worth every penny.
Overall, it was a quiet day for the Eagles. Many expected the team to do more than sign just two players, one of whom was already under contract.
But free agency isn't just one day, and NFL rosters are not meant to be constructed through free agency. I'm not going to bring up what happened three offseasons ago, but keep in mind that Philadelphia general manager Howie Roseman has shown since the 2011 offseason that he knows exactly what he's doing.
Now it's on to day two of free agency, where the majority of Philadelphia waits to see if the team makes a move for all-world cornerback Darrelle Revis. But don't expect it, and that's okay. Roseman has a plan and Byrd and Ward clearly weren't a part of it.