Janoris Jenkins, the talented but troubled cornerback selected by the St. Louis Rams in the second round of the NFL draft, still hasn’t signed a contract. And a major hurdle will have to be cleared before he does.
Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports, who previously reported that the Rams and Jenkins weren’t seeing eye to eye over Jenkins’ failure to hire a financial adviser whom the Rams thought he needed, now reports that there’s another issue between the Rams and Jenkins: The Rams have proposed splitting Jenkins’ $2 million signing bonus into four annual payments of $500,000. That way, if Jenkins’ off-field problems surface again, the Rams can cut ties with him and only be on the hook for the amount they’ve already paid.
Unsurprisingly, Jenkins’ agent Malik Shareef is not on board with that idea. Jenkins wants his whole signing bonus to be paid upfront, as is ordinarily the case with a signing bonus.
Cole compares the Jenkins situation with the negotiations between the Patriots and tight end Aaron Hernandez after they drafted him in 2010. Hernandez also had some off-field red flags, so the Patriots made a deal with him: Take less upfront money than a player drafted at your slot would ordinarily get, and we’ll make it up to you with a contract that has a greater total value. Hernandez accepted that offer and it worked out well for him: He has played well on the field and avoided trouble off the field and will likely end up with more money over the course of his entire rookie contract.
But the deal the Rams are apparently offering Jenkins isn’t just a little less money upfront. It’s a lot less. And any agent would balk at that.
If things really come to a head, it could set up a game of chicken between the Rams and Jenkins. Would the Rams blink first, not wanting to waste a second-round draft pick if Jenkins simply refuses to go along with the contract the Rams are offering? Or would Jenkins blink first, not wanting to have to sit out the entire year and then re-enter the 2013 NFL draft, when there’s no guarantee that he’d go any higher than he did this year?
Although the rookie wage scale in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement has made lengthy rookie holdouts largely a thing of the past, the Jenkins situation bears watching, and could drag out for a while.