The signing of Brandon Carr in the March free agency period, followed by the decision of the Dallas Cowboys brass to move up in this April’s NFL Draft to select Morris Claiborne were two bold moves the team made to improve the play in the defensive secondary. However, that has left the future of disgruntled cornerback Mike Jenkins with the Cowboys somewhat cloudy heading into the 2012 NFL season and beyond.
There were rumors on day two of the draft that the Cowboys were looking to move Jenkins, only for a deal not to be made. After the draft, Jenkins had also been prominently linked in trade rumors to the Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions. These rumors coupled with the two aforementioned personnel moves of adding Carr and Claiborne have left Jenkins and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, potentially looking for an exit strategy. With this being Jenkins contract year, he and his agent want to make sure he has a prominent role this season. Last week on an ESPN broadcast, Chris Mortensen mentioned that if the Cowboys were to move Jenkins, they would be looking for players, not draft picks. With this being said, there are only three realistic options with Jenkins:
1) Jenkins is moved before the season, or before the deadline for some type of compensation, whether that is for either a player and or draft picks.
2) Jenkins stays a Cowboy, plays out the year and his future is addressed in the offseason. In this option, he would either move on to another team, or Jerry Jones could work out a deal to bring him back.
3) He is resigned during the season.
Before getting too much into the possible outcomes, I want to state that I feel Jenkins is a very solid cornerback in this league. While I wouldn’t call him a number one, he’s definitely a good number two or three in your cornerback rotation. To touch on option (3), this will be the least possible outcome. Jerry does do deals during the season, and the past few years he has done Demarcus Ware, Jason Witten, Jay Ratliff, and Miles Austin. However, he doesn’t do many and during this season, and Tony Romo will most likely be the first player they will want to address.
In regards to option (1), they could move him before or during the season. If the team made that decision, Cowboy fans should hope for draft pick compensation, as opposed to a player. I would hope for either a first or second rounder. While a first is probably unrealistic, I think a second is possible, and would be the only thing that I would move him for. The “whispers” that have been out there have mentioned anywhere from third to fifth round draft pick compensation. If this is the best the Cowboys can do by parting with Jenkins, unless he becomes a problem in the locker room, it would be in their best interest to hold onto him. If he leaves, they’d most likely get a fourth round compensatory pick in the 2014 draft. If a team wants Jenkins, they need make it worth the Cowboys time, and offer something of substance, as finding a solid cornerback is not easy. There are much easier positions to fill.
The most realistic option I see the Cowboys pursuing is (2), and letting Jenkins play out the season for the Cowboys and finding out just how far this team as constructed can go. As Jerry has said this offseason, the core isn’t getting any younger, and neither is Jerry. Injuries are a part of the NFL, and the only question is “when” will the injury bug hit, and not “if”. In the 2011 season, when injuries hit the secondary, the depth wasn’t there, and the defense suffered. Cowboy fans saw way too much of Alan Ball and Frank Walker. Morris Claiborne will be a very good cornerback; however, the first half of the season he will have some “on the job” training that will take place. A rotation of Carr, Jenkins and Claiborne works best on the outside, with a rotation of Scandrick and Jenkins in the slot.
Let’s hope the Cowboys make the right decision in the defensive backfield. Their cornerback rotation is definitely a top ten group, and could possibly be a top five. This is depth the Cowboys haven’t had in a long time, and could be invaluable to a long playoff run come January.