Coming Full Circle: Saints Safety Malcolm Jenkins happy to return to NOLA

Malcolm Jenkins
Posted at 10:40 PM, Mar 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-21 23:41:07-04

The New Orleans Saints announced today that they have agreed to terms with safety Malcolm Jenkins on a four-year contract. The announcements were made by Saints’ Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis.

Jenkins, 6-0, 204, rejoins the Saints for whom he began his professional career in 2006 as a first round draft pick (14th overall) out of Ohio State. The Piscataway, N.J.. native is a veteran of 11 NFL seasons, playing his first five in New Orleans and his last six with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Jenkins has played in 167 career regular season games with 159 starts and has career totals of 1,076 tackles (784 solo), ten sacks, 17 interception with six returned for touchdowns, 115 passes defensed,15 forced fumbles, nine fumble recoveries, 44 special teams stops, three coverage forced fumbles, one coverage fumble recovery and three blocked field goals. His six picks returned for touchdowns since 2009 are tied for third in the NFL during this period. He has played in 12 career postseason contests with ten starts for two Super Bowl championship teams and has recorded 75 tackles (57 solo), two sacks and five passes defensed. In his 11 campaigns he has played for seven playoff teams, four division champions and two Super Bowl champs. He has earned Pro Bowl honors three times (2015, 2017 and 2018) and was an Associated Press second-team All-Pro

Jenkins appeared in 71 regular season with 63 starts with the Saints from 2009-13. He registered 394 tackles (279 solo). He also had seven sacks, six interceptions, 38 passes defensed, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, 14 special teams stops, two coverage forced fumbles, one coverage fumble recovery and one blocked field goal. Jenkins was a part of a team that captured two NFC South titles, qualified for the playoffs four times and captured Super Bowl XLIV during his tenure and in six postseason games with four starts, he recorded 24 tackles (16 solo), one sacks, two passes defensed and one special teams stop.

Jenkins signed with the Eagles as an unrestricted free agent in 2014. In 2019, he started all 16 games and led the Eagles with 118 tackles (82 solo), 2.5 sacks, 12 passes defensed, a career-high four forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, two special teams stops and one blocked field goal. In the NFC Wild Card Playoff loss to Seattle, Jenkins posted ten tackles and a sack.

At Ohio State, Jenkins was a team captain and consensus All-American selection as a senior in 2008 and was honored with the Jim Thorpe Award, which is given to the nation’s top defensive back.

Both during his tenures with the Saints and Eagles, Jenkins has been one of the most socially conscious and community-minded players in the NFL. In 2019, he was nominated for the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for the third time and was the recipient of the 2017 NFLPA Byron “Whizzer” White Award for extraordinary philanthropic and on-field performance. He launched his “Malcolm Jenkins Foundation” in 2010 to provide resources, experiences and opportunities for underserved youth. The foundation’s active in New Orleans, New Jersey, Ohio and Philadelphia. In New Orleans alone, since 2012, the foundation’s scholars program has awarded more than $128,000 in scholarships, of which 70% of the scholars are first generation college students. In 2017, he co-founded the Players Coalition to organize a group of NFL players’ fight for racial and social equality.

From Jenkins Conference Call

Opening Statement:

“I am very, very excited to be coming back to New Orleans, especially at this point in my career. It kind of feels like everything's coming full circle and obviously with the success that the team has had in the last few years, being able to come back and just help push the team just with that one more step that I think it needs to be back in that Super Bowl again. I'm super excited and grateful for Mrs. Benson, Mickey Loomis and Sean (Payton) for giving me the opportunities to come back. New Orleans is family. I still have a place down there and my second daughter's middle name is NOLA because I love that place. I'm excited to be back in the community. My foundation has maintained our programs in New Orleans over the last six years. It feels like I'm coming back home.”

How much have you grown as a player since the first time you were in New Orleans from 2009-13?
“I think I’ve grown tremendously. Mainly because I think I figured out what it is I do best and what roles those are. I think I have a better understanding of how to do that in a defense and coaches I think have allowed me to excel in that role. I think I've grown a lot just from learning the game, but also learning (about) myself”

And over the same span, how much as a humanitarian, because your charitable donations and your work in the community are pretty well known. How much will you dive into to the situation now?
“Yeah, I think for me, like I said, we started off my foundation in New Orleans and have maintained our programs there, even though I haven't been there in the last six years. We're still giving out scholarships and doing our food drives, but I think like any community that we go into, it's really about assessing what the need is. And I think as we deal with this virus, not only from a health standpoint, but financially and how it’s really hurting a lot of people, especially in New Orleans that's a service-based, tourist based industry, there's going to be some unique ways or some different ways people need help. I think the first part is just really analyzing what the issues are and figuring out how myself and my foundation or what other organizations are doing work that's effective and then supporting that.”

It seems like you were a free agent for about a minute and a half before you chose the Saints. Was this a matter of they were your first call, you were their first call and you didn't need to hear from other teams, or did you have enough time to hear from a lot of teams and weigh other options?
“For me, it really was not about the highest bidder or anything like that. I knew I wanted to either stay in Philadelphia or if I was going to go anywhere else it was going to be New Orleans. Just because at this point in my career I want to be near my family, to be on a team that can win and to be happy. For me, this was my first choice and it seemed to be mutual so (there was) no need for me to really wait too much longer.”

Did the Saints let you know, I know it seems obvious that they value things like your leadership and your ability to line guys up on the field, but did they convey to you what they're looking for from you in those kinds of areas?
“Not yet. We talked very briefly just very surface level. What kind of defense they're running and things like that. I think for me what I want to come in (and do) is this is a whole different team since I was there. I don't want to come in and try to take over anything or change anything. They've already got it working. And so for me it's just figuring out what's my role, how do I help some of the younger guys develop, how do I support some of the leaders on the team already and master whatever my role is going to be on the team. But I think we’ve some time to define what that is.”