Alan Dell

Commentary | Dallas Cowboys' Mike Jenkins would be a perfect fit for Tampa Bay Buccaneers

An open letter to Greg Schiano, Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Dear Coach Schiano:

It's time to bring Mike Jenkins home.

The Bucs had a chance to get him in 2008 but instead chose a different cornerback in Aqib Talib.

It was like picking Jesse James over Wyatt Earp.

We don't know what the Bucs were thinking back then other than they were not thinking very much, which has become a habit.

You are in charge now and have made it clear that character is important, which brings us back to Jenkins.

He is a person of high character and talent, a combination that is not so easy to find these days in NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's world.

You remember Jenkins from your days at Rutgers. During his last two years at USF, he was the top cornerback in the Big East and one of the best in the country.

Many believe he was the best player produced by Southeast High, which is quite a compliment considering Peter Warrick is among the graduates.

Jenkins has speed, size and the ferocity of a safety. Teams, including your Rutgers squad, were afraid to throw in his area.

The Schiano Bucs are all about character and discipline, which are immeasurable commodities you hope will turn a 4-12 team into a winner. They flow through Jenkins' veins.

He did good things for people and even chose USF over elite programs because he wanted to be close to home to help take care of his diabetic mother and siblings.

He sacrificed the glory of being at Alabama or Auburn and other Southeastern Conference powerhouses to take care of his family.

Then-USF head coach Jim Leavitt said you never had to worry about Mike. He knew how to conduct himself on and off the field.

The Bucs took Talib and inherited all his baggage from a dysfunctional childhood. He is a shoot-first, think-later person who hasn't figured out how to function in the real world.

With a pending trial on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon looming, we don't know if he will be in jail or suspended by Lord Goodell for conduct unbecoming to the coffers of NFL owners.

You will never have to worry about those things with Mike. He was a Pro Bowler in 2009, slipped a little the following season, but he bounced back last year despite numerous injuries.

Last year, he fought through a neck stinger, hamstring strain, sore shoulder and knee and a shoulder separation that required offseason surgery. He displayed courage, another one of the traits you cherish, and showed that when he's healthy, he is among the best at his profession.

Last year with Jenkins playing a key role, Dallas went from the No. 31-ranked scoring defense to 16th. Despite that, owner Jerry Jones signed free agent corner Brandon Carr in a five-year $50.1 million deal and moved up in the draft to select LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne sixth overall.

Jones' impatience can be to your benefit.

You remember Claiborne? A lot of people believe you made a big mistake by not choosing him and instead re-arranging your draft to get a safety.

Well, here is a chance to win both ways. Your cornerback situation is full of issues: Ronde Barber can't beat Father Time forever, Talib will eventually self-destruct, and Eric Wright could likely turn out to be another financial embarrassment for your general manager, Mark Dominik.

When healthy and motivated, Jenkins is better than all three. Playing again in Raymond James Stadium before the home folks would energize him, and USF fans would love to see one of their own back home.

You've taken a risk on all those Rutgers guys, and Jenkins is not a risk. It's a move that can't go wrong, and the asking price should be within your budget. It's time to deal!

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7080, ext. 2112.