Are Cowboys shooting straight about Jenkins?

IRVING, Texas — If you want a straight answer at Valley Ranch these days, just make sure you don’t talk with more than one person.

New Dallas Cowboys secondary coach Jerome Henderson informed the media last week he could envision a scenario in which four cornerbacks could be on the field at the same time.

Whether he was simply being kind to the disgruntled Mike Jenkins, it seemed like a bold idea. Henderson explained to me that he felt like his cornerbacks had the skill sets to double as safeties at times. I spent the next few days spreading the word around North Texas via print and radio. It even seemed as if Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones was enamored with this idea.

But then, second-year defensive coordinator Rob Ryan poured cold water on the idea while talking with reporters earlier this week. He seemed caught off guard by the very suggestion of four cornerbacks taking the field to combat four-wide-receiver formations.

“I don’t know if we’ll do that,” Ryan said. “If we ever get in a need to play all those guys, then we can do that certainly. They have good skill sets where I’m sure they could match up with a tight end, a smaller tight end or whatever. It’s just if that need ever shows up, then you can definitely play those four guys.”

For now, the Cowboys insist they have zero interest in trading Jenkins, who is skipping the “voluntary” workouts at Valley Ranch. Head coach Jason Garrett came right out and said Jenkins won’t be traded, but I’m still not convinced. A lot of it depends on how desperate other teams become before or during training camp.

The Indianapolis Colts definitely reached out to the Cowboys in regards to Jenkins, but nothing has come to fruition. Jenkins was a Pro Bowl-caliber player in ’09 before taking a step back the following season. He actually showed some grit last season in playing through various injuries, but he’s now either the Cowboys’ third or fourth option at cornerback. The team has committed so much money to his position that it’s understandable why he’s worried about his future. There’s no way he can strike it rich in free agency next year if he can’t get on the field.

Jenkins could start for a lot of teams in the league, but it’s not going to happen here. A source told on Friday that the best the Cowboys could hope for in a trade was a 2013 second-round pick. That certainly sounds like pie-in-the-sky stuff at this point, but you never know what a team might do in a desperate situation.

Despite what the Cowboys are saying publicly, it’s my belief they would deal Jenkins for a second- or third-round pick. But he’ll likely play out his contract with the Cowboys.

This is the first time in years they have had quality depth at cornerback. We saw the Cowboys enter the 2010 season with only three cornerbacks on the roster, which was utterly ridiculous. And last season, they had to sign one of Garrett’s former teammates — Frank Walker — just to get through the season.

Jenkins isn’t doing himself a lot of favors by skipping OTAs, but I’m not sure how much it really matters. He won’t be ready until training camp, so there’s really no rush.

The Cowboys will likely hold on to him for the 2012 season, but they aren’t as vigilant about that stance as they’re letting on.