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Cowboys’ Hijinks

Richie Whitt, CBSDFW.COM
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The missive hit the Twitterverse around 8 o’clock Tuesday night.

@mikejenk21: Just got TRADED to the @RAIDERS BLACK HOLE BABY!!!!

Mike Jenkins, of course, is a disgruntled Dallas Cowboys’ cornerback so it must be true. His Twitter had 17,000 followers, so it must be his. Made a lot of sense.

Except that in this chapter of the Cowboys’ cornerback carousel, nothing adds up.

Jenkins has no leverage. Jenkins has no starting job. Jenkins – at least @mikejenk21 – has no Twitter account. Jenkins has not been traded to Oakland. For now he’s staying in Dallas, where, once training camp arrives, he’ll fight for playing time. The tweet from a fake account temporarily fooled a lot of folks. But Jenkins’ ploy to stay away from the Cowboys’ organized team activities is tricking no one.

Jenkins has his widdle feewings hurt.

You know what? Tough shit.

Jenkins has been the Cowboys’ best cornerback the last three seasons. Which is like saying Game 1 of the Mavericks-Thunder playoff loss was Dallas’ least nauseating. Ugly and unsuccessful, nonetheless.

The last two years the Cowboys have been chauffeured into mediocrity by a couple of the worst pass defenses in the history of this proud franchise. Since 2010 opposing quarterbacks have thrown for almost 8,000 yards and a whopping 57 touchdowns (the Baltimore Ravens have permitted just 33). In the two games that decided last year’s NFC East champion New York Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning threw for almost 800 yards. And in the last two seasons the Cowboys have had 1,085 passes thrown their way. Jenkins has intercepted exactly two of them.

For his role in the sorry secondary shenanigans, Dave Campo lost his job. Veteran cornerback Terence Newman lost his job. Safety Abe Elam lost his job. Alan Ball lost his job. And Jenkins … thinks he deserves a raise?

To his credit, Jenkins played hurt and played okay last season. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has called him a “warrior” and a “super talented player.” Jenkins underwent shoulder surgery in January and has been rehabbing at his home in Florida this off-season.

Fair enough. But this week his butt should be at Valley Ranch where the 2012 Cowboys convene on the field together for the first time.

Said head coach Jason Garrett, “I’d like to see him here. I hope he’s here.”

But Jenkins isn’t here. And likely won’t be a part of the Cowboys until training camp opens in Oxnard, California in late July.

Why? Pride. Protest. Pouting.

In an attempt to overhaul and improve their porous pass defense, the Cowboys signed Brandon Carr in free agency. They then moved up in last month’s draft to select LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. Presto, Jenkins is No. 3 on the depth chart. Which should be motivation, right? But when you have an over-inflated opinion of the man in the mirror, it leads only to a bruised ego.

Jenkins, 6-foot and 200 pounds, is in the prime of his NFL career. Drafted 25th overall in ’08, he’s a 27-year-old veteran with speed and agility, if not superior ball skills. He became a starter in Dallas when Pacman Jones got hurt and Anthony Henry was traded. He has eight career interceptions, five coming in ’09. He went to the Pro Bowl that season, but only as a replacement when the Minnesota Vikings’ Antoine Winfield couldn’t play due to an injury.

Jenkins is good, not great.

But he has horrible leverage.

In skipping OTAs and desiring a trade, I’m not sure what he’s trying to accomplish. Greg Ellis bitched and moaned, but he showed up. Same for the Texas Rangers’ Michael Young.

Jenkins is in the final year of his rookie contract, paying him $1 million. What should he do? Get to Dallas, beat out Carr or Claiborne and display to the Cowboys or other NFL teams that he has value and is deserving of a big contract. By sitting out he’s merely diminishing his trade value.

The Cowboys have no incentive to trade him anyway. Asante Samuel only prompted a 7th-round pick before the draft. If the Cowboys tried to trade Jenkins today they’d be lucky to get a 6th. If they wait and Jenkins walks in free agency, they’re likely to get as high as a 3rd-rounder as a compensatory pick.

Carr will make $10 million this year. Claiborne cost the Cowboys a 2nd-round draft pick. Owner Jerry Jones even invested heavily in corner Orlando Scandrick last year during the preseason.

As for Jenkins:

“We have zero intention of trading him. None,” said Jones. “He’s a vital part of our plan. I am assuring Mike that he has a very critical role in what we want to be defensively. Jenkins is not only this year, but a long-term player here as far as I’m concerned.”

So if you’re worth the money Mike Jenkins, do something you haven’t done the last two seasons:

Prove it.

Or else you really might wind up a Raider one of these days.

(© Copyright 2012 CBS Local, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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