The Chicago Bears have fielded trade calls on disgruntled offensive tackle Teven Jenkins, according to multiple reports. Jenkins missed his fifth consecutive practice on Monday. It’s been a tumultuous summer for Jenkins, who continues to get pushed further down the depth chart in Chicago.
New Bears General Manager Ryan Poles, who didn’t draft Jenkins, recently agreed to terms with veteran free-agent offensive tackle Riley Reiff on a one-year contract worth up to $12.5 million. Even prior to Reiff’s arrival, it was rookie day-three selection Braxton Jones, not Jenkins, that was working with the first team at left tackle throughout organized team activities (OTAs). Jenkins isn’t in the mix to start at right tackle, either. Fellow sophomore blocker Larry Borom is expected to maintain his starting position on the right side.
The Bears wouldn’t recoup the draft capital they invested into Jenkins by trading him, but this unhappy union appears headed for divorce nonetheless. A trade appears to be the most realistic outcome. Trading Jenkins would cost the Bears $865,000 in dead cap in 2022 and $1.73 million in dead cap in 2023, via Spotrac. That’s hardly prohibitive.
We’ve identified three potential landing spots for Jenkins.
Former Bears General Manager Ryan Pace was the decision-maker that drafted Jenkins. Pace was infatuated with Jenkins as a prospect and traded up, parting with a third-round selection in a draft-day swap with the Carolina Panthers, in order to draft Jenkins with the 39th overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. Pace now works for the Falcons as a senior personnel executive.
Pace’s influence has been immediately felt in Atlanta. Falcons General Manager Terry Fontenot has signed six ex-Bears this offseason alone, including Eddie Goldman, Damien Williams, and Germain Ifedi, to name a few. The Falcons have questions all over their offensive line, particularly at right tackle, where Kaleb McGary has failed to live up to his pre-draft billing. Jenkins could come in and compete alongside McGary or work behind him as the long-term successor, seeing that McGary is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Pace’s presence in Atlanta makes the Falcons the most realistic landing spot for Jenkins.
Teams often trade for players their coaching staff has connections to. A notable connection to Jenkins can be found on the Washington Commanders’ staff. New Commanders tight ends position coach Juan Castillo spent Jenkins’ rookie season as his offensive line position coach in Chicago. Castillo is a 40-year coaching veteran who’s one of the more respected position coaches around the league. Few coaches or executives in the league are more familiar with Jenkins’ personality and skill set than Castillo is.
Commanders Head Coach Ron Rivera won a Super Bowl while playing linebacker for the Chicago Bears. Rivera is still intimately familiar with the franchise and retains friendships inside their headquarters. Rivera will have a behind-the-scenes understanding of what went wrong for Jenkins in Chicago. The Commanders have their bookends with Charles Leno Jr. at left tackle and Sam Cosmi at right tackle, but Cosmi is a fellow member of the 2021 draft class that’s yet to fully prove himself at the next level. Bringing in Jenkins would raise the competition level at right tackle while reuniting him with a familiar face in Castillo.
Pittsburgh’s offensive line had holes last season and they’re entering the 2022 campaign with similar concerns. Dan Moore Jr. appears set to start at left tackle for the second consecutive season after struggling as a rookie. The former fourth-round selection may not be Pittsburgh’s long-term answer on the blindside. Chukwuma Okorafor returns to start at right tackle. Okorafor didn’t enjoy the most fruitful campaign in 2021 either, getting called for 11 penalties, per Pro Football Focus. Bringing in another developmental option such as Jenkins would be wise given the question marks that are present.
There have been questions about Jenkins’ maturity and overall approach, but Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin has successfully managed difficult personalities before. Tomlin’s ability to keep Antonio Brown in check for several seasons is now viewed as a resume-building accomplishment. The Steelers also drafted wide receiver George Pickens this year, who had similar maturity questions coming out of college. Working under Tomlin’s tutelage may represent the best-case scenario for Jenkins.
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