First and foremost, this article is not about the value of Mike Jenkins to the Dallas Cowboys. Or even my opinion of Jenkins missing voluntary OTA’s. That being said I’d like to preface the following by confirming that I agree 100% with Dallas hanging on to Mike Jenkins this season.
Unless the team is offered a starting player of comparable skills (at a position of need), or a high draft pick (first or second round), the Cowboys would be getting fleeced. Both scenarios above are highly unlikely.
Moving on, I’d like to help clear Mike Jenkins name from the false and unfortunate tags being attached to it. Lately I’ve heard such terms as ‘selfish’, ‘distraction’, ‘cancer’, etc. But really, what has Mike Jenkins done wrong through all of this?
To truly understand the actions of a man, it’s always most productive to attempt to see the world through his eyes. So let’s do a little exercise today and walk in the shoes of Mike Jenkins. For the next few minutes, we are now loosely assuming the mindset of Mike Jenkins over the last few months….
I’m a former prep All-American from Southeast High School, as well as a collegiate All-American at South Florida University. I was born in Germany yet consider my home state to be Florida as I’ve lived in and played all of my pre-NFL football in the state of Florida.
After college I was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round (25th pick) of the 2008 NFL Draft. I’m still a young player (27) in my prime and playing on the final year of my rookie contract, with my best days of football waiting ahead of me.
I began starting my rookie year with 3 starts, and once I locked down the starting spot my entire second year, I made the Pro Bowl. With that selection, I have achieved the elite award given at the prep, collegiate, and professional level. I AM a very good football player.
The 2011 season was very lackluster for our Cowboys secondary, and I had to fight through injury and severe pain all season to remain on the field as much as possible. It was actually remarkable at times I was even playing when it looked like my arm was hanging out of socket and I couldn’t lift my shoulder. Even at 60-75%, I remained the most productive player in the Dallas secondary.
Fast forward to February. I’m now entering the final year of my rookie contract and preparing to make a final push in 2012 at a new, lofty contract. I’m going to rehab this shoulder, practice hard, and produce a tremendous 2012 season.
The Cowboys will finally see they can’t afford to lose me and should reward my value with a long, secure contract extension. To do all this, I need to be 100% healthy. So I’m getting to work on rehabbing my shoulder right away in my home state of Florida.
As NFL Free Agency begins, my team opens with a big push for cornerback Brandon Carr to play opposite of me in relief of Terence Newman. What a great choice to pair up with. Same age, comparable skills, should help us a lot.
However, the mega contract he is getting may make it less likely Dallas will do the same for me next year. But on the other hand, if Brandon is getting that interest and money now on the market, no doubt I can do the same next year. I’m still happy.
If my Cowboys snag a stud safety or high pressure pass-rusher in the first round of this draft, our defense could be a real force again. I’m definitely excited with the prospects I hear being mentioned. After all, my team just hauled in a top-flight corner, new safety, and inside linebacker in free agency.
It’s a relief watching the high commitment from my team to improve by leaps on bounds on defense… just what we need to get over the hump.
2012 NFL DRAFT
Here comes April and the highly anticipated NFL Draft. Rumors are swirling over who my team will select with the 14th pick. It sounds like stud Alabama safety Mark Barron is most likely going to help solidify the secondary.
With me, Carr, Scandrick, Sensabaugh, and Barron together… Man, we could have a top 10 secondary again. And most Cowboy fans are excited about our secondary’s new potential right along with me.
It’s finally draft day and I feel good. I’m relaxed and going to enjoy the early picks of the draft as my team won’t select for another hour or so.
Wait…what…what did he just say?!? Dallas trades up to the SIXTH SPOT and selects who? The best CORNERBACK in the draft?!? Likely the best defensive player in the draft?
What are they thinking, we already have starting CB covered. My mind begins to spin uncontrollably.
I’m in complete and utter shock, almost disbelief. Why did they do that? We just added a very expensive, starting cornerback this off-season. High first-round picks aren’t selected to become back-ups. What does this mean for the starting secondary this year? What does this mean for my future? What is the strategy of the team?
I’m calling my agent, Drew Rosenhaus to try and make sense of this…I’m not sure what exactly is happening. After a long, heated conversation we agree I have just been demoted to the bench, plain and simple. Brandon Carr makes insane money and is considered the diamond of the free agency haul…he is starting.
Morris Claiborne is a top-6 pick and considered the best defensive player in the draft. We not only used our first-round pick, but also sacrificed our second rounder for this rookie. Translation = Claiborne is also starting. No way they want me starting in the slot, I’m an outside guy, the inside is Orlando’s spot.
I’M THE NEW ALAN BALL
No matter how hard and dominating I play in camp, I can’t beat out the glamour signing of free agency or new rookie savior…it’s politics when handling high-dollar, high-profile players (which is sad, but true). Only a handful of teams in the NFL have the guts to play the very best players regardless of salary.
I’m now a starting caliber, Pro Bowl corner in the prime of my career who’s buried on the depth chart and coming off the bench. I’m still in complete shock! Since the season ended I’ve been supremely excited to be a key player on our overhauled defense and upgraded Cowboys team.
And how did I lose my job? Certainly not through my own poor performance or anyone beating me out in practice. I’ve never even been on the same practice field with Carr or Claiborne. I lost my starting job on paper…period.
NEW STARTERS ANNOINTED
I lost my position before off-season practices ever began, and I was the best secondary player on this entire team last year. Even since adding these new guys, I still think I’m the best secondary player in Dallas. Caliborne has never played a down at this level, and Carr has never been selected to a Pro Bowl during the same amount of years in the league.
It would be a whole different story if Mr. Jones assured me we were all three competing for those two spots, and the two highest performers will be the starters. Would I still feel slighted by the Claiborne draft? Definitely. Would an opportunity to compete against both guys, win out, and keep my starting job subdue the flames? Once I get to practice, absolutely.
But none of this is the case. My defensive coach Rob Ryan and owner Jerry Jones have now publicly proclaimed those guys are the new starters, and even named me 4th cornerback. It’s abundantly clear the Cowboys have little respect for my true value after a pretty solid career here.