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Malcolm Jenkins’ contract with the Saints, as initially reported, is indeed worth $32 million, but the Saints can escape it with minimal dead money after two years if they wish.

Here are the basics:

2020: $1.05 million (base salary) — $3.3 million (cap hit)

2021: $6.2 million (base salary) — $8.45 million (cap hit)

2022: $6.75 million (base salary) — $10 million (cap hit)

2023: $7 million (base salary) — $10 million (cap hit) 

The deal includes a $9 million signing bonus and $1 million roster bonuses in 2022 and 2023.

The only guaranteed components in the deal are the $9 million signing bonus and the $1.05 and $6.2 million base salaries in 2020 and 2021, for a total of $16.25 million.

So there’s nothing guaranteed beyond the 2021 season.

Jenkins will be 34 at that point, and the structure of the contract protects the Saints in the event that his skills have declined to the point where they don’t want to pay him the $6.75 and $7 million base salaries – and the roster bonuses – the last two years of the deal.

Because Jenkins’ signing bonus is $9 million, it’s pro-rated at $2.25 million per year over the four years. 

So if they decided to release him after 2021, they would only be on the hook for $4.5 million in dead money and gain $5.5 million cap savings. If they released him after 2022, he would only count $2.25 million in dead money and provide $7.75 million in cap savings. In either case, the Saints would not have to pay those $1 million roster bonuses or the sizable 2022 and 2023 base salaries.

As a two-year deal, the contract is worth $16.25 million. As a three-year deal, it’s worth $24 million.

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