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Saints coach Sean Payton admits letting go of Malcolm Jenkins was a mistake

Sean Payton, Malcolm Jenkins, Saints

Does anyone outside of New Orleans even remember that Malcolm Jenkins played for the Saints at this point?

Jenkins has been patrolling the Philadelphia Eagles secondary since 2014, making a pair of Pro Bowl and helping lead the Eagles to their first-ever Super Bowl title.

Seeing how impressive of a player Jenkins has become and remembering how important he was to New Orleans’ own Super Bowl team during the 2009-10 campaign, Saints head coach Sean Payton regrets that the franchise let him walk via free agency in March 2014.

“He was probably one of the most important parts to our Super Bowl run,” Payton said of Jenkins on a conference call with Eagles reporters Wednesday, according to Matt Lombardo of NJ.com. “And that was only his rookie season. He’s one of my guys, and I mean that. Probably one of the bigger mistakes that we’ve made, and you have to ask yourself ‘how did that happen?’ Letting him out of the building certainly wasn’t a smart decision.”

Payton and Jenkins will clash this weekend when the Eagles travel to the Mercedez-Benz Superdome to take on the Saints in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

It will mark the second meeting between the two sides this year. Back in November, New Orleans routed by a score of 48-7, and late in the game, Jenkins gave Payton the middle finger.

However, afterward, Jenkins explained that the gesture was merely heat in the moment and that he loves Payton, and Payton has no ill will toward Jenkins for the bird being flipped:

“I told him after the game that I love him,” Payton said. “And I know the feeling is mutual. I just have a ton of respect for him as a player, and also as a person. He’s a fantastic, fantastic player, and just as good of a person.”