October 25, 2014

Would You Be OK With Jenkins If…

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?

Comments

  1. Siegfriend and Rey says:

    Contract content of this nature may be prohibited by the CBA. A “stay out of legal trouble” for one’s rookie wage scale defined salary would likely be challenged as an unfair labor practice by the NFLPA, especially considering the NFL’s own behavioral regime. Missed games for legal reasons have a tendency to result in missed paychecks (or legal trouble generally). Substance stuff is definitely regulated by the CBA, so off limits for bilateral negotiations.

    So this might not even be an option. That aside, you generally can’t contract to not break the law, as there’s a preexisting duty not to. Were he to contract to checking in at a certain time each night like he was on parole, not visiting certain clubs, foregoing smoking legal substances (apparently B.Scott needs to lay off the Black and Milds if he wants to boost lung capacity and aerobic capacity), and after a background check to find dubious characters in his life, to avoid them, that would probably be valid.

    There’s a reason the NFL commissioner has the NFL Code of Conduct which forbids unseemly attention to the league, because he can’t punish someone for committing a crime – that’s what courts are for.

    • Bill says:

      Like I said, I’m not a lawyer, and I figured there might be a reason why clubs didn’t already have something like this already in place. But given the regularity of headlines in which NFL players wind up in handcuffs, the Code of Conduct isn’t exactly a disincentive. If a player demonstrates himself to be a known risk to end up in the back of a squad car, it would be nice if there were some means of communicating with him in a language he understands very well… his paycheck!