A week ago, it looked like Janoris Jenkins might have been a holdout for the start of training camp.
A second-round pick out of North Alabama, Jenkins and his agent, Malik Shareef, weren’t happy that the St. Louis Rams weren’t going to give him the signing bonus and guaranteed money he was asking for.
Disaster was averted on Wednesday when Jenkins agreed to a four-year, $5 million contract with $3.1 million guaranteed. That is the highest increase of percentage of any second-rounder over the last two years since the rookie wage scale was put into place, according to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Jenkins contract also includes a signing bonus of $2.1 million that will be paid in installments.
The Rams also inked third-round pick Trumaine Johnson to a four-year deal on Wednesday.
Part of the hangup with Jenkins was also the fact that the Rams reportedly wanted the troubled cornerback to meet with a sports management and financial advisor to get Jenkins’ child support and finances in order. That was something the NFLPA opposed.
Shareef didn’t want to talk about the contract negotiations and told the Post-Dispatch he was just happy the deal was done and that Jenkins was in camp. The Rams are, too.
Jenkins, who was kicked out of the University of Florida because of multiple arrests, would have been a first-round pick had it not been for his off-the-field troubles. The Rams gambled on him with the 39th overall pick and are hoping for a big payout.
So far, Jenkins has avoided any trouble—unlike some other players this offseason. That’s a good sign and re-affirms what Jenkins and coach Jeff Fisher have been saying all along—the player’s troubles are behind him.
If that’s true, then Jenkins can possibly win a starting job this year. He may have been the most fluid athlete of all the cornerbacks during the minicamps and organized team activities. Once the players get the pads on next week, Jenkins can show how good he really is.
What’s good for both sides is that Jenkins won’t miss any practices. Any time missed during training camp can be detrimental to a rookie’s development. With Jenkins in town for the rookie workouts this week, he’ll be able to refresh himself with the defense prior to the veterans’ arrival on Saturday.
When that happens, look for Jenkins to be like a shadowy sponge around Cortland Finnegan. Talent-wise, they are probably the team’s two best corners. Bradley Fletcher has had two knee injuries, Jerome Murphy is coming off a broken ankle and Josh Gordy played well when pressed into a starting role (though he still got beat deep too often).
Those veterans know just how talented Jenkins is and his presence from the beginning of training camp will only make him—and the rest of the secondary—better.