Southeast's Mike Jenkins returns home by signing with Tampa Bay Buccaneers

adell@bradenton.comMarch 21, 2014 

Jaguars Raiders Football

Oakland Raiders cornerback Mike Jenkins (21) warms up before an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ — AP

TAMPA -- Mike Jenkins is coming home, and people who know a few things about football say it could rejuvenate his career.

Jenkins signed a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday. It's the same team that passed over Jenkins in the 2008 draft and signed Aqib Talib instead.

The Southeast High product, who earned first-team All-American honors at USF, will be entering his seventh NFL season after spending five years with the Dallas Cowboys and last year with Oakland.

"It's a good thing for Mike," said his former coach at Southeast, Paul Maechtle. "His career has been up and down and blossomed and gone the other way, but now he gets a complete fresh start with a new regime.

"I think coming home is good for him. He will play hard in front of his home

town folks in Bradenton and at USF. I think it will be extra motivation for him, and I know a lot of his buddies will be cheering for him."

Jenkins signed a one-year deal for a reported $1.5 million with incentives that could add another $500,000. He should enjoy playing for the Bucs' new head coach, Lovie Smith, who is considered a defensive guru known to bring out the best in his players.

The cornerback drew some criticism at the end of his stay in Dallas for not being physical, though he was battling injuries, including a neck stinger.

As for tackling, Jenkins is coming off his most productive year. He had a career-high 57 unassisted tackles and a combined total of 65 with the Oakland Raiders. He also had six pass defenses, two interceptions and a forced fumble.

From 2009 through 2011, Jenkins started 43 out of a possible 44 games and last season started 15 games for the Raiders. He started 16 games for Dallas in 2010 and had 55 tackles with an interception and nine passes defensed.

"We're pleased to welcome Mike back home to the Tampa Bay area," Bucs general manager Jason Licht said. "Mike is someone that we targeted early on in our free agency planning and we are excited to have him in the fold. He's a proven corner who provides us with a valuable veteran presence. We expect him to compete for a starting spot in our defensive backfield."

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