Orlando Scandrick came into the NFL determined to prove he was better than a fifth-round pick. Before even finishing his rookie contract, he convinced the Dallas Cowboys how much he’s worth.
On Wednesday, Scandrick received a five-year extension worth $27 million — an additional $2 million this season, and an average of $5 million per season for the added years. He’s guaranteed $10 million, according to a person familiar with negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity because the terms were not released.
”The chip is still on my shoulder,” Scandrick said. ”Now I need to prove that I’m worth it.”
Scandrick came to training camp knowing there was a chance for a new deal from Dallas or that he could play his way into bigger money as a free agent next summer. Having quickly won over new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan with his strong play the first month of camp, talks heated up between the Cowboys and Scandrick’s agent. He wound up getting the kind of money a No. 2 cornerback would get, even though he’s considered No. 3, behind Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins.
”I always told myself if I got to a certain number, I would take it. And they met my number,” Scandrick said, later adding that the overall deal exceeded his expectations.
The deal was done about a half-hour before the Cowboys took the field for a night time practice at their stadium. Word had spread to his teammates and they congratulated him. Then he had a practice befitting his new salary — an interception, a sack and a blocked field goal.
”I felt energetic, my confidence raised,” Scandrick said. ”I’m not playing to not make mistakes now. Now I’m playing to make plays. I expect to have a tremendous year.”
The 5-foot-10, 193-pound Scandrick arrived in 2008, the same season Jenkins was taken in the first round. Jenkins’ signing bonus alone was bigger than Scandrick’s entire deal. The various slights, combined with a supreme confidence and strong work ethic, have fueled Scandrick ever since.
Just last week, he was angry enough to hurl a helmet. He and secondary coach Dave Campo bicker constantly.
”He’s happy with me today,” Campo said, laughing.
Campo tested that, making sure that Scandrick’s fire will still rage now that he’s in a new tax bracket.
”I just said, ‘Hey, you can’t lose your edge,”’ Campo said. ”There’s a fine line between the penthouse and you know the other spot. This guy is not a 6-foot, 205-pound corner that runs a 4.3. He’s not a real big guy. He’s got to keep the edge, be ready to play. I think he’ll do that. He’s smart enough to do that.”
Scandrick found his niche in the nickel package, covering the slot receiver. Campo said Scandrick is among the best in the league at that difficult task.
The challenge, Campo said, is all the adjustments that have to be made within the defense depending on what they expect the offense to do. That requires lots of studying, which Scandrick does as well as anyone. Then there’s the difficulty of a receiver being able to break in either direction; on the outside, cornerbacks can cheat one way or another because of the sideline.
”Some guys can do it and some guys can’t,” Campo said. ”He’s smart, tough enough and fast. That’s pretty good.”
He’s also only 24.
”That Scandrick is a terrific player,” Ryan said earlier in camp. ”People want to say he’s a sub guy, but this guy is really a special player. That role is very difficult. He has to be one of the smartest guys on the team and also one of the most talented. We’re real fortunate. I really like Orlando. I think he should be excellent in our system.”
Scandrick said he and Jenkins should make a great tandem for years to come. Perhaps it was fitting then that Jenkins went through his first contact practice in weeks, having recovered from a stinger.