The Chicago Bears have been pushing through 2022 training camp without second-year offensive tackle Teven Jenkins available at practice, and the longer he has remained off the field, the more rumors have swirled about his future.
Jenkins will miss his sixth consecutive camp practice for the Bears if he does not take the field on Wednesday, August 3, sitting out with an unspecified injury and a status that head coach Matt Eberflus continues to describe as “day-to-day.” According to NBC Sports’ David Kaplan, Chicago is also concerned about the “disconnect” between Jenkins and its coaching staff that is centered around his “immaturity.”
On top of that, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo reported on Tuesday that the Bears have been receiving trade inquiries about Jenkins and have at least had some level of discussions with interested teams about moving him.
To those rumors, though, Jenkins has a simple message for Bears fans: “I’m good, don’t believe everything you read.”
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Jenkins Could Draw Lots of Trade Interest
Jenkins’ tweet appears to downplay the uncertainty of his future with the Bears, but there still figures to be a good amount of trade interest in him if Chicago did decide to go that route. He was originally expected to be a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL draft before injury concerns harmed his stock and is now almost a full year removed from the surgery that helped correct his back problems. With such strong college tape and raw physical potential, Jenkins could be appealing to any team needing tackle depth.
The tricky thing is finding a worthwhile value when so many things are working against Jenkins. Kaplan reported that the injury holding Jenkins out at camp is “not a serious” one, but he also said the staff views him as a “highly immature player.”
“What I’m hearing is there is a high level of disconnect between Teven and the new coaching staff, especially Chris Morgan, the new offensive line coach,” Kaplan said during July 30 video update. “That means you have a highly immature player who’s got a lot of talent. As one person who would know close to the team said to me, ‘He’s their most talented lineman,’ but I’m also hearing he’s wildly immature. So, this is on Teven Jenkins to grow the hell up.”
Jenkins Remains Most Valuable With Bears
Whatever the return might be in a trade involving Jenkins, the best possible outcome for the franchise would still seem to be finding a way forward with him as a member of their offensive line. He remains a young offensive tackle with a high developmental ceiling and seems to possess all of the physical traits necessary to become an efficient NFL starter. Given how bleak the O-line situation is in Chicago, the Bears would seem foolish not to ride with him for another year and see how he progresses.
Jenkins only saw playing time in six games during his 2021 rookie season after spending the first 11 games on injured reserve recovering from back surgery, but he still delivered some promising moments. One of his finest was Week 15’s game against the Minnesota Vikings, in which Jenkins started at left tackle in place of an injured Jason Peters and allowed just two pressures and two hurries on quarterback Justin Fields behind his violent play. Even as a small sample size, it showed what he could become.
The real trick will be tackling the maturity issues with Jenkins. If Kaplan’s intel is good and the Bears are genuinely worried about Jenkins being immature, Poles’ front office will face a major test on the player-development side of things trying to bridge the divide between them and a troublesome player with star potential. There are plenty of reasons to think Jenkins can still be a valuable asset, but it falls on them to unlock his potential while sorting through whatever others issues are holding him back.