First-round picks face final year of contracts

July, 29, 2012
7/29/12
6:00
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OXNARD, Calif. -- The Cowboys have two first-round picks -- running back Felix Jones and cornerback Mike Jenkins -- who enter the final year of their contracts.

Jones and Jenkins are coming off shoulder surgeries and have shown flashes of being elite players in the past. Yet, the club hasn't tendered a new contract to either.

Combine that with outside linebacker Anthony Spencer, who was franchised this spring at $8.8 million, and the Cowboys have three first-round picks who could be free agents at the end of the 2012 regular season.

"Those three guys we're counting on to help us win this year," executive vice president Stephen Jones said. "None of the three have been ruled out for long-term contracts."

Jones said the franchise likes all three players, calling each of them, "damn good football player(s)."

The Cowboys have been known to take care of their own players before they hit free agency; Jones referenced Darren Woodson and Jay Novacek as examples.

Injuries and inconsistency have hampered the play of Jenkins and Jones.

In the offseason, Jenkins wanted a new contract. When that wasn't fulfilled, he requested a trade and skipped voluntary workouts. Jenkins, who made the Pro Bowl in 2009, is scheduled to visit Dr. James Andrews next week to have his shoulder re-examined. That complicates his long-term future. Coach Jason Garrett said Jenkins could return by the end of the preseason and owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he's spoken to the cornerback about becoming part of a rotation at the position. Jones said Jenkins was receptive to it.

Felix Jones, who has scored just two touchdowns the last two seasons, has played a full NFL season just once, in 2010. But Jones is seen as a dynamic player who makes defenders miss in space and has the ability to make long scores.

Spencer has never picked up more than six sacks in a single-season and is compared to fellow outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware. Spencer is good in pass coverage but isn't consistent in finishing plays on the pass rush. Spencer also sought a long-term deal from the Cowboys, but talks didn't yield any significant progress.

"We like them all," Stephen Jones said.

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