Mike Jenkins wants the Cowboys to feel his pain. They won't.
I understand where Jenkins is coming from. The CB demanded a trade after Dallas moved up to select LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne in the draft. Jenkins, without a doubt the team's best corner last season, is playing on the final year of his rookie contract.
He's seen the club sign fellow 2008 rookie but fifth-rounder Orlando Scandrick to an extension, sign free agent Brandon Carr to a big deal and now draft a blue-chipper while he sits and stews. Head coach Jason Garrett said he has no indication whether Jenkins is showing up or not. Late yesterday he got his answer as Jenkins and agent Drew Rosenhaus let it be known he still wants the trade and will not report to the voluntary OTA's.
Yes, the OTA's are voluntary, but he's the only Cowboy player not in attendance that doesn't have an excused absence according to Star-Telegram's Clarence Hill.
According to a source Demarcus Ware and Mike Jenkins only absences from cowboys OTA's. Ware had a personal commitment. Will be there Wed.— Clarence Hill (@clarencehilljr) May 22, 2012
To me, Jenkins being upset is certainly understandable, but he's not in a position of strength. He had surgery on his right shoulder injury that kept him in an out of games through some herculean efforts in 2011. Regardless of the toughness that displayed, teams aren't trading value for a corner that isn't healed. You have to be on the field to prove you are back. In addition, Jenkins has had one of the most up and down careers we've seen in a while. One season he looks legitimate, the next season he looks legitimately lost.
In his rookie campaign, he was easily outplayed by Scandrick after Wade Phillips began the year alternating starters. That year included Jenkins lack of effort in tackling players on their way to the end zone. I don't know, maybe that's kind of an important skill to exhibit.
In 2009, he showed that he was highly capable of sticking his nose in the mix on pass and run plays. In 2010, he regressed again and had fans wondering his worth. In 2011, despite being the team's best corner, his overall play was decidedly average. How exactly are the Cowboys supposed to reward that with a long-term contract. Just because they gave Scandrick an extension out of necessity, doesn't mean they need to make the same mistake with Jenkins.
Also, Dallas won't trade him unless it's worthwhile. CB has been injury prone position for Dallas for years. How does it make sense to trade one away when they finally have depth and don't have to consider signing the next Frank Walker? They definitely don't need a fifth rounder for that.
If Jenkins proves he is capable, maybe he can outplay Scandrick and earn an extension. Scandrick's deal was structured to be heavy on the cap this season but can be manipulated rather easily moving forward. If Jenks outplays him, there is no reason the team would feel married to Orlando. If he did show and prove, then there would be trade value and worse case scenario; he'd improve his worth for the 2013 market.
Just like disgruntled Eagles' wideout DeSean Jackson last season, Jenkins only has so much leverage. Once it gets to mandatory practices of training camp, the fines are going to be $30,000 per day. There will even come a date in August where if Jenkins doesn't report to the team, he will not accrue his year of service, which basically means that his contract details for this year, extend to next year, which renders the holdout moot.
It's not out of the question for Dallas to listen to trade offers for Jenkins, I just don't see why they would do it. How does getting a fifth-rounder help them when their depth chart contains only one corner familiar with the scheme and includes a rookie starter who isn't going to get any physical reps in OTAs?
A lot of folks don't understand what happens during OTAs. This is the time when the entire playbook is installed and is the only opportunity for players to walk through the process and learn the techniques along with the philosophies of the playbook. Morris Claiborne being held out of OTAs is a much bigger deal than people acknowledge. He could be drastically behind the learning curve once he can go full speed in training camp when everyone else has a month of on-field practice to match his month of classroom learning. Jenkins could open the season as the starting corner opposite Carr; a far cry from the fourth-corner many media types have portrayed his 2012 lot in life as.
So does Dallas really have a viable option of trading away Jenkins? I can't see it; at least not as an intelligent move. He'll have to join the fold sooner or later or else risk going through the same thing next season.
For more of KD's coverage of the Cowboys, check out Blogging The Boys.