Philadelphia released Cullen Jenkins today rather than pay him a looming $1M roster bonus. Jenkins had been due to earn $5.5M in compensation in 2013, the third season of a five-year, $25M deal signed in 2011.
The 32-year-old defensive tackle had reportedly been a target of the Broncos heading into 2011's post-lockout free agency, but along with Seattle's Brandon Mebane, he priced himself out of Denver's comfort zone.
Cullen's deal with the Eagles (as part of their now defunct self-dubbed Dream Team) was a unique one, scheduling for him to make $12.5M in 2012, when he took a cut down to an $800K salary, along with his $5M roster bonus.
Denver ended up turning to the trade route that offseason to shore up its perennial defensive tackle crater, sending a 2013 draft choice (thought to be a sixth-rounder) to Philly in return for Brodrick Bunkley.
In turn, Bunkley left a year ago for the richer pastures of New Orleans, where he got the same overall deal as Jenkins had gotten with the Eagles in 2011.
It remains to be seen whether the Broncos would still consider the younger brother of former Panthers and Jets DT Kris Jenkins, or whether he'd be willing to take a steep enough pay cut to satisfy their cap budget demands.
But as for his quality of play, Jenkins had a solid season in 2012 - albeit perhaps not one worthy of his lofty compensation - according to PFF's figures.
To wit, he played a healthy 642 snaps (25th among tackles) and graded out at +2.4 overall (45th), while racking up 25 hurries (5th most) and four sacks (tied for 11th). Jenkins started all 16 games (for the second straight year), finishing with 27 total tackles (23 solo), one pass defensed, one forced fumble, and one recovery.
Both of Denver's 2012 starters at tackle, Justin Bannan and Kevin Vickerson, are set to become unrestricted free agents. As has become an annual rite, the team is widely expected to be searching for more talent at the position, whether via free agency, or the draft.
Other pending free agents at the position include Oakland's Richard Seymour and Desmond Bryant (who was arrested in Miami over the weekend), Jacksonville's Terrance Knighton (who had played under Denver OC Jack Del Rio), Miami's Randy Starks, and two other players who had been rumored targets of the Broncos in the past - Philly's Derek Landri (who played under John Fox at Carolina), and San Diego's Aubrayo Franklin.
I don't think Jenkins is a fit as a base defender for the Broncos at this point. Those who think they play a "4-3" will misunderstand this, but they aren't trying to penetrate gaps on base downs.
Rather, they're two-gapping, and that's not the kind of player that Jenkins is.
I'd take him as a situational inside pass rusher, but I doubt he'd come cheaply enough to make that a worthwhile venture.
What his release does present is an increase in supply in the DT market, which may serve to drive down the prices of guys like Bannan and Vickerson. We can hope that it has that effect.
Updates: 2:30pm ET - added Ted's reaction; 3:47pm ET - added Dream Team and Bryant links