If Saturday's Pro Football Talk report is true, about the Eagles offering safety Malcolm Jenkins as part of a trade package to New Orleans for wideout Brandin Cooks that the Saints turned down, what does that mean?
First, let's stipulate that we don't know the report is true. We know only that someone – presumably from the Saints – went to Pro Football Talk with this information, saying the Eagles offered Jenkins plus third- and fourth-round draft choices this year, for Cooks, who ultimately was traded to New England for the final pick of the first round this season plus an exchange of later picks (a fourth-rounder from the Saints to the Pats, a third-rounder from the Pats to the Saints). The report said the Saints wanted Jenkins and a second-rounder.
Why would the Saints want to get this information out? Some of their fans aren't pleased with the haul from New England. Cooks was on the market for a while, with reports alleging the Saints would trade him only for a mid-first-round pick and/or a significant defensive player. They didn't get that. And the Eagles got the better of the Saints in 2014, when New Orleans let Jenkins walk in free agency and opted to sign Buffalo free agent Jarius Byrd, whose disappointing Saints tenure ended last week.
But, all that acknowledged, now that Byrd is on the scrap heap, the Saints certainly could use Jenkins, 29, a leader and a versatile player who can play either safety spot and slot corner. Why would the Eagles be willing to trade him? Jenkins' loss would be huge for their secondary and for defensive leadership, especially with the team jettisoning defensive end Connor Barwin last week for salary-cap reasons.
If you squint really hard, you can sort of discern a rationale. Start with the fact that Howie Roseman is dead serious about putting longterm weapons at Carson Wentz's disposal. Cooks, 23, with back-to-back 1,100-yard-plus seasons behind him, is more of a sure thing than Alshon Jeffery or Torrey Smith, the wideouts the Eagles have signed in free agency.
Plus, Roseman presumably could have used the $9.5 million in cap room expended in the Jeffery deal, along with $1.5 million in cap room from trading Jenkins, for one of the top-of-the-market corners in free agency. Then, the Eagles could have addressed safety in the draft, maybe even with a Malik Hooker or Jamal Adams, at 14th overall in the first round.
Jenkins' cap number will go up from $7.5 million to $10 million in 2018; he will turn 31, in his 10th season, that December. So if your focus is building a long-term base around Wentz, maybe you figure Cooks is a lot more likely to play on an eventual Eagles Super Bowl contender than Jenkins. (Again, we're squinting really hard here.)
Or, maybe this report reflects more what the Saints wanted than what was actually offered. The third- and fourth-round picks, in what is said to be an exceptional defensive draft, would have been substantial assets as well. The Eagles would seem to have a lot of work to do to field a competitive defense in 2017; if there's no Barwin, Bennie Logan (free agent) or Mychal Kendricks (seemingly headed for trade or release), you need substantial help at edge rusher, defensive tackle and inside linebacker -- in addition to, of course, cornerback, where you have bid farewell to both 2016 starters, Leodis McKelvin and Nolan Carroll. And of course, if you'd made this trade, you'd need an immediate starter at safety.
Roseman did not respond to a request for comment. Attempts to reach Jenkins were unsuccessful, though he posted on Instagram a photo of himself and other Eagles heading onto the field from the Lincoln Financial Field locker room tunnel. With the photo, he posted this: "Stay Focused…"
The comments listed with the post were a mixture; most were from Eagles fans happy Jenkins wasn't traded, but some were mocking him for supposedly having been offered, something Jenkins could hardly be happy about.