As I read different discussions regarding Mike Jenkins decision I read a lot about how Jenkins needs to "Honor his Contract" and "swallow his pride" etc, and I think there are some very important things to remember about the NFL before we make those kinds of statements.
1) The teams fail to honor contracts every single day.
Every time a player gets cut, that is the team terminating the contract with that player. They are no longer required to pay the remaining value of the contract, (other than some guaranteed amounts). Every time a team signs a player to a new contract, one of the first things we as fans do is try to look at the contract to figure out, how the contract is structured to allow the team to cut the player without taking a huge cap hit.
2) Supply & Demand leans to the teams.
There are 32 NFL teams, and that number is a constant and has remained that way for the last 10+ years. There are over 110 FBS and FCS College Football teams, not to mention division 2 and 3, NAIA, and JUCO schools. Each College team carries 80+ players, about 1/4 of which will finish school and become NFL eligible every year. That's over 2000 new eligible players every year. In the entire NFL there are 1696 roster spots available for the regular seasons. So that means an entire NFL worth of players become eligible every year. I understand a great majority of the players that become eligible are no where near talented enough to play in the NFL but it helps illustrate the point. Players have 32 options of where they can play. The teams have literally HUNDREDS of options of guys can sign. So the teams will always have the advantage.
3) Competition throughout the roster.
It has been said by coach Garrett, and written on this website as well as others many times about how important it is to have competition at every spot on your team. Which is great for the team, but as a player who is seeking a level of job security, attempting to use their skills to support their families. Former O-Lineman Mark Schlereth says on ESPN radio all the time that as an NFL player, if you want to know how much your team values you, you should go to the facility on your day off (Tuesday) and see how many guys the team has paid to come to town and try out to TAKE YOUR JOB!
4) The only leverage a player has...
is to threaten not to play, more specifically to not show up for voluntary activities in the off-season. This is a way the player can let teams other than their current team know that they are unhappy with their current situation. Which can lead to trade offers like we have seen for Jenkins recently. Even this leverage is limited because once the Mandatory Mini-Camp and Training Camp roll around, there are fines associated with not showing up.
I understand as fans of the Cowboys, we want to see Mike Jenkins (and every other player) at Valley Ranch for every activity. But before we rip Mike Jenkins or any other player who may make the decision not to be there, we need to remember that he's not just a widget, or a machine under a helmet, he is a person, with a family and a mortgage and obligations of his own. Think about your greatest talent, it might be music, or writing, or mathematics or statistics, or negotiations, coaching, teaching or sales. Odds are you probably use those talents to make a living and support your family, if you aren't happy with your current situation, you have the ability to find another company to work for that would give you the best opportunity to earn more money or have better benefits. NFL players don't have those same kinds of options, so before we rip him for "not showing up for work" or "not honoring his contract", just remember that he's only using the limited leverage he might have, and that these activities are voluntary, and are not required in his contract, and that the teams we root for fail to honor contracts all the time, and many times we as fans say good riddance and hallelujah.