Bears Make Final Call on Future of OL Teven Jenkins

Teven Jenkins, Bears

Getty Chicago Bears offensive lineman Teven Jenkins making a block during an NFL game.

The Chicago Bears were always going to shake up the offensive line this offseason, and coach Chris Morgan confirmed one major change over the weekend.

Teven Jenkins had a tumultuous rookie season in Chicago in 2021, leaving his future with the franchise uncertain as the Bears ushered in new decision makers in general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus. Then, last season, Jenkins showed all the critics why he was worth the 39th overall pick in the draft. Pro Football Focus (PFF) gave Jenkins a grade of 80.7, which was good enough to rank him 3rd out of 77 players who qualified at the guard position in 2022.

Despite Jenkins’ second-year evolution, the Bears’ offensive line still struggled mightily last year. In order to address their issues, Chicago drafted tackle Darnell Wright out of Tennessee with the No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft after adding guard Nate Davis in free agency. It was widely assumed that the addition of Davis might result in a position change for Jenkins, shifting him from the right side of the line to the left. On Saturday, May 6, ESPN’s Courtney Cronin confirmed the move via Twitter.

“Teven Jenkins has moved over to left guard with the addition of Nate Davis at right guard,” Cronin wrote.

Bears Still Have Major Questions About Braxton Jones at Left Tackle

Braxton Jones, Bears

GettyLeft tackle Braxton Jones of the Chicago Bears in action during a game against the Green Bay Packers in December 2022. 

With the guard positions locked in and Wright presumably destined to start at right tackle during his rookie season, the biggest question left on the offensive line is who will protect quarterback Justin Fields‘ blindside at left tackle?

The answer last season was fifth-round rookie Braxton Jones. Jones was better than solid, particularly considering his lack of NFL experience. PFF graded him as the 19th best tackle in the league out of the 81 players who qualified. That said, Chicago was still one of the worst teams in the NFL when it came to sacks allowed (58), finishing 29th out of 32 squads.

The Bears admitted they were open to rearranging the offensive line ahead of the draft, including shifting Jones to a new position.

“That’s all open right now,” Eberflus said on March 28, per Jason Lieser of The Chicago Sun-Times. “We have to go through the draft and see what we do there.”

Free agent options remaining for Chicago include George Fant and Cameron Fleming after the team added Nigerian offensive tackle Roy Mbaeteka via the NFL International Player Pathways program on Thursday.

Bears Have Decision to Make on Center Cody Whitehair

Cody Whitehair

GettyChicago Bears center Cody Whitehair plays during an NFL game against the Green Bay Packers. 

Another prominent question is whether center Cody Whitehair will remain on the Bears’ roster long enough to start in 2023.

Chicago can save $9.9 million against the salary cap by cutting Whitehair after June 1. However, Poles told reporters on April 29 that “right now” he likes both Whitehair and Lucas Patrick at the center position.

“For right now, I feel good with Cody and Lucas both as leaders and players,” Poles said. “They’ve both played that position well in the past, so I think we’re in good shape there. And obviously, that’s my job — to always look forward and add competition at certain positions, and we’ll continue to do that.”

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