Commentary

Mike Jenkins looks for easy way out

Instead of skipping OTAs and seeking trade, Cowboys CB should fight for his job

Updated: May 22, 2012, 2:09 PM ET
By Jean-Jacques Taylor | ESPNDallas.com

For now, Mike Jenkins represents the sense of entitlement that runs rampant through the Dallas Cowboys' Valley Ranch training complex.

He's planning to skip the club's on-field training activities, which begin Tuesday. Sure, they're voluntary, but every other healthy player under contract will practice this week.

[+] EnlargeMike Jenkins
Jeff Fishbein/Icon SMICornerback Mike Jenkins has been pushed down the Cowboys' depth chart and apparently he isn't happy about it.

Jenkins won't.

Why?

The Cowboys hurt his feelings because they took Morris Claiborne with the sixth pick in last month's draft, and he wants to be traded.

Whatever.

Dude, get over it. Now.

Jenkins is tripping. Big time.

Maybe Jenkins is upset because he's unsure of his role with Claiborne and Brandon Carr, the $50 million free agent the Cowboys signed in March, on the roster.

If Jenkins wants a role, then he needs to earn it on the field. The Cowboys don't owe him anything.

Perhaps he's upset because as a backup he won't accumulate the statistics that will enable him to sign the type of long-term, big-money deal that Carr and Cortland Finnegan did in March.

Whose fault is that?

What exactly has Jenkins done other than make the Pro Bowl after his second season, when he had 19 pass deflections and five interceptions? A lot of players have one good season.

Three of his four seasons with Cowboys have been average at best and blah at worst for any number of reasons.

While he hasn't been a first-round bust, Jenkins certainly hasn't been the player we thought he was going to be when he arrived in Dallas. Some of it -- a lack of preparation -- is his fault, and some of it -- such as the myriad injuries -- is not. The end result: The erosion of his confidence is merely a byproduct of the issues he has had on and off the field.

The days of ceremonial starters hopefully ended with Marion Barber's release before last season. Jason Garrett preaches competition at every position.

Well, cornerback has the deepest collection of quality players on the Cowboys' roster.

We can assume Carr will start after all the money the Cowboys spent on him, and Claiborne, the top-ranked defensive player on Dallas' draft board, will become a starter before the season begins.

More important, each is better than Jenkins. Orlando Scandrick is not.

Scandrick is destined to be a nickel cornerback until the day his career ends because he's not good enough to play on the outside, and in today's NFL there's nothing wrong with that.

If Jenkins wants to play this year, then he needs to beat out Scandrick and take his playing time.

Jenkins is more talented, but Scandrick plays and competes with an attitude. He's still mad he lasted until the fifth round, and he wants to prove every day that he's not too small or too slow to be more than just a guy in the NFL.

If Jenkins played with that kind of edge, the former first-round pick would welcome the competition if for no other reason than to prove to the Cowboys they made a dumb decision in adding Carr and Claiborne.

Instead, Jenkins wants to go to another team where the competition isn't as fierce, or where some soft coach will give him a starting job and keep him in the lineup no matter how he plays.

Too bad.

It's in the Cowboys' best interest to keep Jenkins. The way NFL offenses spread the field and regularly use formations with three and four receivers, a team needs at least three good cornerbacks.

The Cowboys have four, and they should keep their top four cornerbacks unless some team blows them away with an offer for Jenkins.

Last season, Jenkins led the Cowboys with eight pass deflections and played the run better and with more conviction than he had during any of his first three seasons in Dallas.

And he displayed some toughness most of us didn't know he had by battling through a shoulder injury, but the NFL is all about business, and it's in his best interest to be here.

Even though his offseason shoulder surgery would keep him off the field, Jenkins should be learning whatever tweaks defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has added to the defense and studying video.

He's playing for 31 other clubs starting now. If Dallas won't pay him, then he'll have to get it elsewhere.

Skipping the OTAs as some sort of protest is just dumb.

Jean-Jacques Taylor joined ESPNDallas.com in August 2011. A native of Dallas, Taylor spent the past 20 years writing for The Dallas Morning News, where he covered high schools sports, the Texas Rangers and spent 11 seasons covering the Dallas Cowboys before becoming a general columnist in 2006.

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