After several months of silence, Mike Jenkins finally spoke to the media this past Monday. The controversial off-season that changed his role with the Dallas Cowboys was the topic at hand. First of all, I fully believe for the most part Mike Jenkins is an honest, straight-forward guy. If asked a question and he feels a response is appropriate at that moment, his response will generally be truthful. It may be toned down a notch, as he deems the extent of his emotions are inappropriate for the audience, but essentially you can read between the lines.
I’m seemingly in the minority with my general thoughts concerning Jenkins this off-season. I firmly believe both sides had every right to feel and act in the manner they did. The Cowboys had a great opportunity to land a special, young corner and avoid huge contract negotiations with Jenkins at season’s end. Mike Jenkins earned every right to remain a starter in this league and certainly has the ability.
The distance between the team and the player was relatively understandable leading up to camp. Yet, now is the time to be a professional on both sides, mend fences, and get down to the business of Cowboys football. A contract year is not a free pass to sulk or loaf. The player is still legally binded by the contract he agreed to play for. If he decides his designated role with the team is unfair…tough, you signed the agreement.
On the Cowboys side, it’s now time to get Mike involved in the gameplans and show him on the field how important he remains to the success of the team. Even before fully healed, Jenkins needs to be involved mentally with the defensive strategy. And that is no understatement. The Cowboys need Mike Jenkins this season and Jenkins needs his team to maximize future earnings…plain and simple. Now you kids squash the ill-will and horse play, and get to work on winning together.
I do find it interesting to analyze what Jenkins recently unveiled about his past and current mindset, and attempt to decode it’s full meaning. Let’s take a closer look at Monday’s quotes from the cornerback.
- 1) Once it was clear two likely new starters were added at his position
"It was frustrating at first… I knew what it was. They let me know. They called me. Actually, they called me after the fact. Like I said. It’s a business. I understand that. It’s not for me to get mad. — Mike Jenkins (July 30, 2012)"
There is definite continued frustration in Mike’s words here but it seems like after time away he has dealt with it as a professional. He made a point to say he was told after the fact, which sounds like that was one of the most insulting aspects in his eyes. Mike is a straight-forward guy and felt they should have at least informed him of their new intentions.
To the Cowboys credit, signing Brandon Carr was known well ahead of time by all and I’m sure Jenkins was solidly behind the move. As for Morris Claiborne, well Mike, that request is unreasonable.
The Cowboys had their eye on Claiborne before draft day, but were unsure if the opportunity would present itself. It did and they pulled the trigger. However, it’s very rare for management to inform current players about their draft possibilities. Even if they wanted to, there was no time to alert any player before they leaped up to grab Claiborne.
Although he was clearly frustrated in this quote and some sour grapes still remain, he also affirms he has dealt with it enough to be a professional and do his job to the best of his ability. Jenkins understands the NFL is a cut and dry business on both sides of the fence, and he acknowledges that fact.
- 2) The publicly disclosed trade request and where it originated
"I’m not sure (how the trade reports came about). It never came out of my mouth."
Once again, Jenkins is being honest in literal form. But this time he’s obviously telling a partial truth that concludes it’s inaccuracy. Yes Jenkins never told the media, the Cowboys, or any NFL team he wanted a trade. Did he discuss it with his agent? Absolutely. If Drew Rosenhaus didn’t suggest the trade as a priority and Jenkins didn’t agree, both of them were not doing their job protecting the best interests of Mike Jenkins.
There’s no chance he didn’t discuss this in private and agree it was a strong option to pursue before Rosenhaus went to work. It may not have originated from Jenkins mouth even when he spoke with Drew, but I’m sure he agreed it was the best option and gave approval. If you had a chance to remain a starting corner on several teams in the NFL or play 4th fiddle in Dallas, wouldn’t you attempt to land elsewhere in a trade?
- 3) Will he be ready to play for the Sept.5 opener against the Giants
"When I get back (from the doctor visit scheduled for later this week), I will have a better answer for you."
This one is pretty cut and dry
. Even Jenkins doesn’t fully know where his recovery stands at the moment. Furthermore, I’m sold he will not touch the field until declared 100% recovered from surgery. Until there is no extra risk of injury beyond the norm of his occupation, Jenkins will sit.
In the past, Mike has rushed recovery several times to help the team when he was sorely needed. Now that mindset is out. While I think he will expend maximum effort when on the field, I also understand he won’t endanger his future. Not saying a sore thumb will keep him out, but any injury threatening his future even in the short-term will not be pushed.
- 4) Thoughts and intentions regarding the upcoming 2012 season
"Wherever I end up , I’m just ready to play and help that team out… I don’t know. If it’s here, then yeah. If it’s anywhere else, I’ll go with it there."
Again we hear a little defiance and remaining frustration from his perception of Dallas revoking his starting role. You can almost tell word for word exactly how he is feeling and his future intentions. Some of this can be attributed to the fact that it’s not set in stone if Dallas intends to keep him or make a trade before the season. He claims he will give everything he’s got to whatever team he ends up with, to help maximize his current team and his position heading into contract negotiations. And I believe he will do that.
Jenkins is more of a stand-up guy than most perceived him during this ordeal. Once taking the field in camp, he will quickly resume the bond and responsibility with his current teammates and fulfill his new role on the defense. Jenkins does realize the best thing for his future is to play hard and maximize his dollars in the upcoming contract negotiations.
To me this situation has been overblown by the media and contains many negative assumptions that will soon disappear. It’s easy to understand his pride was hurt and the pain lingers to an extent. Yet Dallas, and especially Rob Ryan, fully understands he still plays a critical role in this secondary. With the defensive coaches and teammates interacting with him during actual football activities, the competitor and good teammate in Jenkins will emerge.
Upon catching his stride in camp and football entering his blood, Jenkins will play his role, and play it well. It’s time for everyone to forgive and forget, and welcome back Mike Jenkins. Mike Jenkins will play a critical role in the success of the 2012 Dallas Cowboys. For those who support this organization we must embrace him as family once again, and all unify under one silver star.