Jenkins was due to make $11.2 million in salary and bonuses this year -- $1.2 million of which was guaranteed. New Orleans will save at least $7 million against the salary cap and could save another $3 million if the move is designated as a post-June 1 release.
Jenkins, 32, went to the Pro Bowl with the New York Giants in 2016 and has 26 interceptions in his nine-year career with the Rams, Giants and Saints. He started 15 games in New Orleans last season, including the playoffs, after the Saints claimed him off waivers from the Giants late in the 2019 season.
The Saints began the offseason nearly $100 million over the cap, which was reduced by 8% to $182.5 million for 2021 because of coronavirus-related lost revenues in 2020.
New Orleans has now released Jenkins, receiver Emmanuel Sanders, punter Thomas Morstead, tight end Josh Hill and offensive lineman Nick Easton. The Saints also are expected to release linebacker Kwon Alexander.
Jenkins was likely one of the tougher decisions on that list, as he had proved to be a good fit for the defense, which ranked as the NFL's fourth-best in yards allowed and fifth in points allowed in 2020.
The 5-foot-10, 190-pounder had three interceptions last season, one of which he returned for a touchdown in a Week 1 victory over Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He had 12 pass defenses last season and a total of 118 in his career.
The Saints don't have an obvious replacement waiting in-house, so the position could be a priority to address in free agency or the draft.
A second-round draft pick with the Rams in 2012, Jenkins has started a total of 125 games in the regular season and four more in the playoffs.