Dallas Cowboys cornerback Mike Jenkins pushed the saga surrounding his trade status to another front on Monday.
Jenkins decided to boycott organized team activities, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. While Jenkins may continue to maneuver to try to get traded, the Cowboys must stand their ground to best help their cornerback group.
That Jenkins decided to boycott OTAs won't seem controversial, and it shouldn't either. OTAs, which started on Tuesday for the Cowboys, aren't intense practices. Players don't go all out or wear full pads. Often, OTAs are just fun team activities designed to keep players engaged and in good condition.
Also, OTAs are voluntary.
Despite that, teams take them very seriously. They expect all the players who can attend to be there. Sometimes, teams fine players who don't attend OTAs, even though they're voluntary. There's no indication that the Cowboys would fine Jenkins for missing the activities.
The Cowboys had been rumored to be trading Jenkins after they drafted Morris Claiborne in April. A league source told ESPNDallas/Fort Worth that the Cowboys tried to trade Jenkins after the Claiborne selection, but another source said that they wouldn't move Jenkins if they couldn't get value for him.
Jerry Jones batted down the rumors about two weeks later. He told ESPNDallas/Fort Worth, "He's (Jenkins) a vital part of our plan. We know that we have a situation where we can identify what we are on defense by having three corners in there a lot."
Jones also said that the Cowboys have "no interest" in trading Jenkins.
Jones needs to hold that line. First, he doesn't want to give the impression that the Cowboys are willing to trade players who just happen to be unhappy. That could lead to more players demanding to be traded in the future simply because they're unhappy about their outlook.
Should the Cowboys trade Mike Jenkins?
Second, Jenkins, as Jones mentioned, makes the Cowboys' cornerback corps effectively three-deep. Jenkins is a strong cover cornerback. Despite missing time due to injury last season, Jenkins tied for the team high with 10 pass deflections.
Jones needs to let Jenkins know that he's important to the Cowboys. He needs to relay to the 2008 first-round pick that his talents help make the Cowboys better and that the team would sorely miss him.
Further, Jones should explain to Jenkins that he'd be able to play a substantial portion of snaps, even if he's the No. 3 cornerback.
Jones knows Jenkins' value to the Cowboys, and he knows how to make players happy. He can make Jenkins happy while not appeasing him by trading him. Jenkins could realize the benefits of staying with the Cowboys if he has a good season and perhaps even helps the Cowboys reach the Super Bowl.
Standing ground is an important principle for the Cowboys, and it can show Jenkins benefits that he has yet to understand.