Janoris Jenkins is going to be an interesting wild card in the 2012 draft. He is reported by some to be the most physically talented cornerback in the draft (a huge need to fill in this offseason), and he would be a high first round pick if not for lingering character questions. Two arrests in three months for marijuana led Jenkins to being dismissed from the football program at Florida. In the wake of Jerome Simpson’s legal issues, drafting him would be a risky PR move. (Not that Mike Brown is much of a “PR” guy.)
A significant number of mock drafts are connecting Jenkins to the Bengals. Given Brown’s history of playing “redeemer” (and picking up talented-but-flawed players at a discount), the assumptions are understandable, even if irritating as a fan. The Bengals have done a far better job of drafting character guys the past couple of years, and most of us would like that trend to continue.
But if the Bengals could add a certain wrinkle, would you be more inclined to take a chance on Jenkins? (Side note: I am not a contract lawyer, so I have no idea if this idea would ever hold up.)
Performance clauses are commonplace in NFL contracts. What if the Bengals could add some sort of a “good boy” clause to a contract with Jenkins? Instead of paying a bonus up front, the Bengals retain a portion of his pay (and I mean a healthy portion, like half) that gets paid in full at the end of the season if, and only if, Jenkins is a good citizen and stays out of trouble. And if he should find his way into handcuffs, then he would also find himself forfeiting a large sum of money. If he needs a babysitter, like Josh Hamilton, then get him one to prove that this is about his own good and not hoping to score another discount. If money talks, losing half your earnings shouts to stay on the straight and narrow.
Jenkins would probably be reluctant to sign a deal with such a clause. It is sort of like a pre-nup in that the Bengals would be stating up front that they don’t trust him. (And why should they?) But if there is any man in the NFL equipped to play this kind of hardball and win, it’s Mike Brown.
Again, there could be legal issues that disallow a clause like this. But if Jenkins would sign a deal with this kind of clause, could you be OK with the Bengals drafting him? Or do you choose to avoid him, no matter how good he is, because of his past?