After cornerback Janoris Jenkins finished his slide out of round one and commenced a possible free-fall that some thought could end in round four, the Rams intervened at pick No. 39. But now the Rams want to act like Jenkins was taken much lower than that.
As MDS pointed out on Wednesday, Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Rams want to divide the $2 million signing bonus to which Jenkins is entitled by virtue of his slot into four annual $500,000 roster bonuses. (Technically, the signing bonus should fall between $2.03 million and $2.14 million, based on the guys taken immediately before and after Jenkins.)
This approach would protect the Rams against Jenkins doing the kind of things that got him kicked out of Florida — a place where if you’re talented it’s fairly hard work to get kicked out. But if the Rams wanted insurance against a reefer relapse, they had a much better way to protect themselves.
They could have passed on Jenkins with the 39th pick.
Once a team takes a guy with a specific selection, the team buys the contract that goes with the slot. If the kid has red flags that would arguably justify paying him less, then don’t take him with a selection that requires paying him more.
It’s really that simple. Especially under a rookie wage scale that now tilts so heavily toward the teams.
So what if the Patriots did it with tight end Aaron Hernandez in 2010? It doesn’t make it fair and it doesn’t make it right for Jenkins or anyone else, including Hernandez.
The problem is that the player has no real options, especially under the new CBA. Prior to 2011, the player could simply accept the one-year, minimum-salary tender, playing year to year and hoping to get a long-term deal by holding out while not under contract. Under the new CBA, the alternative is agreeing to a three-year deal for the minimum salaries. Which makes it impossible to hold out as an exclusive-rights free agent.
The other alternative for Jenkins is to sit out the season and re-enter the draft and hope that he’ll be picked at least that high in 2013 by a team that will pay the full signing bonus. With no income in the interim.
And so, as a practical matter, Jenkins has no other options. And so the Rams are squeezing Jenkins because they can. But they shouldn’t. If they didn’t want to pay Jenkins what he deserves as the 39th player taken in the draft, they should have picked someone else and hoped Jenkins would still be available at a time when the financial risk would have been much lower.
Instead, the Rams are trying to have it both ways. Given that the NFLPA was poised to push the frivolous proposition that the Saints were screwing Drew Brees because of his union activities in 2011, let’s see whether the union scours the CBA for ammunition to support an argument that the Rams are trying to railroad Jenkins.