The conventional wisdom among NFL observers is that the Pittsburgh Steelers could use upgrades at both offensive tackle spots. Hence The Draft Network’s suggestion that the Steelers make a move to try to acquire 24-year-old tackle Teven Jenkins, who is currently on the trading block, as per Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL Network.
“The Bears have received calls and have held trade talks” about him, says Rapoport. “The former 2nd round pick has drawn interest based on his potential. A situation to watch.”
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Why Are the Bears Looking to Move Teven Jenkins
The fact that the Bears are already looking to part with a 2021 second-round pick is notable in itself, though Jenkins was drafted by previous general manager Ryan Pace, not the current regime.
Jenkins — who is listed at 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds — was selected No. 39 overall in last year’s draft out of Oklahoma State, but he missed the first 11 games of his rookie season after having surgery to address back issues that hindered him during his college career. But he played in the final six games of the regular season (with two starts), allowing two sacks and committing seven penalties in 160 offensive snaps, as per Pro Football Focus.
Fast forward to this summer and Jenkins has missed the last six practices at Bears training camp, ostensibly because of a minor injury. But according to David Kaplan of NBC Sports Chicago, the real issue is a “high level of disconnect between Teven and the new coaching staff, especially Chris Morgan, the new offensive line coach,” who was the assistant offensive line coach in Pittsburgh last season, but joined Chicago’s staff in February 2022.
“As one person … close to the team said to me, ‘He’s their most talented lineman, but I’m also hearing he’s wildly immature,’” added Kaplan.
“There have been questions about Jenkins’ maturity and overall approach, but Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has successfully managed difficult personalities before,” argues Justin Melo of The Draft Network. “Working under Tomlin’s tutelage may represent the best-case scenario for Jenkins,” he concludes, having already addressed perceived “question marks” surrounding left tackle Dan Moore Jr. and right tackle Chuks Okorafor.
Might the Steelers be Interested in Teven Jenkins?
It’s not inconceivable the Steelers could be talking to the Bears about Jenkins. In April 2021, Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network indicated that Jenkins was one of two offensive linemen under consideration for Pittsburgh’s first-round pick, if running back Najee Harris was already off the board.
Moreover, the Steelers had a pre-draft meeting with Jenkins, according to blackandgoldnation.com, suggesting a certain minimum level of interest.
Acquiring him wouldn’t be prohibitively expensive, either, at least not from a financial perspective. A new team would be responsible for his $1,041,266 salary in 2022, with his salaries rising to $1,422,532 in 2023 and $1,803,798 in 2024, as per overthecap.com. It seems doubtful the Bears could ask for anything more than a mid-round draft pick in return.
As for whether the Steelers would be willing to take a chance on Jenkins, there isn’t a need at left tackle, except in the case of injury to second-year man Dan Moore Jr., a former fourth-round pick (Texas A&M) who started 16 games during his rookie year. Earlier this year former Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said that Moore would be the “left tackle of the future for this football team, and he’s going to be very good at it.” More recently, ex-Steelers offensive guard Ramon Foster suggested that Moore has Hall of Fame potential.
As for the right side of the line, the Steelers signed Chuks Okorafor to a new three-year, $29.25 contract in March 2022, but the deal is structured in such a way that they can move on from him after this season without a prohibitively large dead money cap hit.
Meanwhile, the Steelers can be seen as lacking in terms of depth options at tackle, so there’s always a possibility that the team tries to add a talent like Jenkins as a depth/development project, as he has experience playing both left and right tackle.
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