Miami Dolphins: Malcolm Jenkins Could Be the Answer On Defense

Dec 4, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Philadelphia Eagles strong safety Malcolm Jenkins (27) against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 32-14. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Dolphins have improved many of their flaws in free agency. With that said, one big-name player could be the answer to fill their biggest hole.

The Miami Dolphins have done an outstanding job in free agency to this point in the offseason. They beefed up their defensive front seven, while retaining key players on both sides of the ball without overspending.

Granted, they do still have some work to do, preferably adding another interior lineman on offseason. A starter would be ideal, but depth is a must after kicking Laremy Tunsil outside to the left tackle position. Another linebacker would be a nice add too, to pair with Lawrence Timmons and Kiko Alonso. Nevertheless, there is one position where they have a glaring hole that needs to be filled.

Starting safety Isa Abdul-Quddus was cut by the team at the start of free agency after it was learned he would not be able to suit up in 2017 and his career was in jeopardy due to a serious neck injury involving nerve damage. Abdul-Quddus was slated to be a very solid option to line up alongside superstar safety Reshad Jones. Jones just signed a five-year, $60 million extension. Now they need to partner him next to another strong starting option.

Nate Allen is not the right option. He’s a decent depth add. But he is by no means an acceptable starting option on a legitimate defense that hopes to make a deep playoff run, which should be the goal in Miami after making the playoffs in 2016. Allen does have playmaking abilities, but he is an injury risk and often a liability in the secondary.

Through his seven-year NFL career, Allen has completed a full 16-game season just once, and has missed 13 games over the past two seasons. Furthermore, his already shaky play has drastically declined since leaving the Philadelphia Eagles following the 2014 season. The Dolphins need to upgrade their safeties.

The issue is there aren’t a whole lot of good options left on the market. This means Miami will likely have to look to the 2017 NFL Draft or perhaps explore trade options. It’s unlikely they draft a safety in the first round of the draft. However, there is a strong possibility Jabrill Peppers will be sitting there and could be intriguing. Otherwise they’ll be banking on getting a starting caliber rookie with the 54th or 97th pick. This is a very risky move for the Dolphins to put all their eggs in the basket of a rookie, especially if it’s not a first-round talent.

If the Dolphins decide to go the trade route, there is one player who may be on the block that could give Miami the best pair of starting safeties in the AFC and possibly the league. It was recently reported by Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio that the Eagles were looking to trade Malcolm Jenkins and multiple draft picks in a deal with the New Orleans Saints that would have potentially landed them Brandin Cooks.

We do not know what the asking price would be for Jenkins beyond that they were willing to part with him for a player of Cooks’ caliber. However, after hearing Philly is willing to include him in a deal, Miami should certainly inquire about the Pro Bowl safety.

This guy is a playmaker that rivals the abilities of Jones. Over the past three season with the Eagles, he’s amassed 261 tackles, eight interceptions, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and a ridiculous four defensive touchdowns. We have seen how a pairing of dominant safeties can impact a defense in this league with pairings on teams like the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals. This move paired with a strong first-round pick in the front seven would make the Dolphins defense a force to be reckoned with.

Jenkins won’t come cheap from a salary cap standpoint as he is set to make $7.5 million this upcoming season and a hefty $10 million in 2018. This contract isn’t as bad as it may initially seem, though. This is because Jenkins is guaranteed any money after 2018. That would leave the Dolphins on the hook for just two years of his of the remainder of his contract and gives them leverage to restructure the contract to make it more team-friendly following 2017. His dead cap number also drops from $12 million to just $4.5 million after 2017 if something went horribly wrong and they were forced to part ways after just one year (all figures per Spotrac).

This move would be a game-changer for the Dolphins and, at the very least, they need to explore this possibility. A durable playmaker with Pro Bowl talent that they can fit under the cap for a reasonable haul of draft picks cannot be overlooked. Now that we know Jenkins is possibly on the block, Miami needs to be calling the Eagles at some point between now and draft day.

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