Eagles Think Safety First: Malcolm Jenkins versus Jairus Byrd
By Bret Stuter
Sep 21, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles free safetyMalcolm Jenkins
(27) returns an interception against Washington Redskins wide receiverDeSean Jackson
(11) in the fourth quarter against the Washington Redskins at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Redskins, 37-34. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins dropped back as quarterback Colin Kaepernick got the snap. As Kaepernick turned to pass, he immediately broke on the ball, catching it in stride on his way to the end zone. Malcolm Jenkins snagged another pass, and with that interception gave the Eagles defense a new dimension. The defense can score on a quarterback mistake.
New Orleans safety Jairus Byrd also dropped back later that afternoon as quarterback Tony Romo got the snap. As Romo turned to pass, Byrd broke towards the receiver at a bad angle. Dez Bryant ran past Byrd en-route to the last touchdown of the night. It was a mistake. And with that play the Saints learned that they too had a new dimension to their defense. The other team’s offense can score on a safety mistake. C’est la vie.
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In March 2014, news broke quickly about the New Orleans Saints fire-sale of talent to make room for what was thought to be a huge contract for tight end Jimmy Graham. The NFL world was shocked to learn the salary cap maneuvering resulted in the Saints signing of then free agent safety Jairus Byrd for a six year $54 Million contract with $28 Million guaranteed.
In order to make room, the Saints had to pare down their own roster. In one such move, they allowed their longtime safety Malcolm Jenkins to hit the free agency market as well. Having lost out on Byrd, but in some reports focusing on Jenkins all along, the Philadelphia Eagles announced the signing of Jenkins to a three year $16.25 Million contract with $8.5 Million guaranteed. At the time, Eagles fans were skeptical that Jenkins was their goal all along, and were happy to point out the price disparity as the sole reason for the signing. But in the signing, it was clear that the Philadelphia Eagles think safety is more than just another position. It requires versatility, intelligence, and more.
Curious to see how things are evolving for the two players at the end of the season’s first four games, I was amazed to see that one of the two players is currently tied for the NFL interception lead. With 21 tackles and three interceptions, I believe Malcolm Jenkins was a great free agent signing for the Eagles.
But what of the Saints? When I checked on Saints star safety, I was certain to read about a player making a huge impact on his new team. But there on the player profile, I saw that Byrd had 22 tackles in 2014, and zero interceptions.
And so, the tale of passing ships on Sunday. One sailed for the promise of a big paycheck. One sailed for the promise of the right fit for the right team. One wanted what was “Due him”, while one wanted what he could “Do”.
BREAKING NEWS: News broke Friday, October 3rd, that the New Orleans Saints have placed Safety Jairus Byrd on injured reserve. That is a crippling loss to a Saints team just thrashed in their road game against the Dallas Cowboys this past Sunday.
Byrds injury could not come at a worse time for the Saints, whose 1-3 start has already placed their playoff hopes in peril. This injury could make it virtually impossible to recover in time to participate in post season this year.
Sometimes the most expensive is not the best value. Caveat Emptor.