Head coach Jason Garrett said the Cowboys are in touch with cornerback Mike Jenkins, who has been working out in Florida instead of at Valley Ranch during the voluntary offseason program.
“We’d like to have all our players here, involved in our offseason program, but we’ve been in communication with Jenks all throughout the offseason,” Garrett said Wednesday during the Cowboys golf tournament at Cowboys Golf Club. “It is voluntary. We can’t make anybody be here. And really, we’re fortunate as a team that we have so many guys who live in Dallas and really embrace what we’re doing in the offseason program.
“We’ve been in communication with Jenks. We’re excited to get him back here and get back to work.”
Three OTA sessions are scheduled beginning May 22. Jenkins doesn’t have to return to Irving until a three-day mandatory minicamp June 12-14.
When he comes back, he’ll face competition at the cornerback spot. The Cowboys signed free agent Brandon Carr to a $50.1 million deal, and they moved up eight spots to take the top corner available in the draft, Morris Claiborne of LSU.
“I think the most important thing for Jenks is to get healthy,” Garrett said. “He had the offseason surgery. He’s down in Florida trying to get his rehab right and get his shoulder right. So that’s Line 1 for him, to get himself healthy and then come back and compete.”
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he is not interested in trading Jenkins, who is entering the last year of his four-year rookie contract, calling him a vital part of the short- and long-term plan.
“We certainly have some options, and we have the numbers there to plan on playing a lot of corners out there,” Jones said. “Because of that kind of depth, with where the league is right now, it’s good.”
Keeping Jenkins beyond this year will likely require a heavy investment. If the Cowboys gave Carr a $50.1 million contract and he has not made a Pro Bowl, Jenkins could ask for something similar or greater, considering he does have a Pro Bowl on his resume.
Besides Claiborne and Carr, the Cowboys are also invested in another corner. Last August, the Cowboys gave nickel corner Orlando Scandrick a five-year extension worth $27 million.
“We’ve got the resources to have three top corners, and Scandrick, which would be, in my mind, a fourth corner,” Jones said. “But we can do it there. That area of your money allocation just happens to be an area where, if you plan right – to get strong at corner and strong at pass rusher – you’re going to spend some money out there. And so we really went through that process real good when we drafted Claiborne, to really think that through and look ahead. But Jenkins is not only this year, but a long-term player here as far as I’m concerned.”
But Garrett made clear Jenkins, like everyone else, has work ahead of him to earn his keep on the roster.
“What our job is as coaches and as an organization is to always try to make our team better,” Garrett said. “One of the ways we do that is we bring people in, personnel, players to create competition to try to make our team better. And guys who play at this level, who play in the NFL, understand. They’ve been competing their whole life. Guys compete to make football teams. Guys compete to be starters. Guys compete for roles on the team, and Jenks is part of that, just like everybody else is.”
-- Carlos Mendez