While Chicago Bears offensive lineman Teven Jenkins is a very good player, his injury history is a concern. Could the team part ways with him?
The Chicago Bears face a critical offseason. In Year 3 of general manager Ryan Poles’ rebuild, the team needs to take a big step forward. They showed some improvements in 2023, but now they need to show they can compete for a playoff spot.
Poles has the #1 pick in this April’s NFL Draft. He also has the #9 pick. He could trade one or both of those picks to acquire a treasure trove of additional picks. Additionally, he has about $46.9 million in salary cap space. That number is sure to rise with a few cuts.
There are a few players the Chicago Bears can look to cut this offseason. Parting ways with offensive lineman Cody Whitehair and safety Eddie Jackson, for example, can save the Bears an additional $21.71 to $24.4 million, depending on their date designation.
Poles could also part ways with a player which would shock many people. Offensive lineman Teven Jenkins could be that player.
Jenkins is talented but brittle
Jenkins was the Chicago Bears’ second-round pick in 2021. He is a talented lineman who has played every position on the line except for center. He found his groove on the interior of the line, thriving at both left and right guard.
While Jenkins’ talent is not in question, his durability sure is. A frustrating aspect of his career has been his injuries. It started almost as soon as he was drafted. He had a first-round grade by scouts. Concerns over a back injury dropped him into the second round.
The concerns ended up being on target. Jenkins needed back surgery before he even made it to training camp. He played in just six games during his rookie season. In his second season, he missed more time. This time he missed four games.
Before the 2023 season, Jenkins talked about having a new conditioning program that would help keep him healthy. That did not help, however, as he started the season on injured reserve. He missed the first four games. Later, he missed another game.
Jenkins’ ability is not in question. He performed well everywhere he’s been asked to play. However, neither he nor the Chicago Bears have been able to come up with something that has worked. He missed 20 games in his three seasons in Chicago.
As good as Jenkins is, he cannot help the Chicago Bears from injured reserve. The offensive line is a critical piece of the offense’s success. The unit has struggled with injuries and bad play for far too long. There is no point in bringing in more skilled players if the big guys up front can’t perform.
If no ties with Fields equals he is out, why not Jenkins?
We hear so much about how quarterback Justin Fields was not drafted by Poles and his team so there are no ties. That gives people the idea that he will look to move him this offseason and have his guy at quarterback.
If that is the case, why would parting ways with Jenkins be a shock? Again, he did not draft him so there are no ties. Why would Poles keep him and his injury history knowing how important this offseason is? He could find good, young, and, most importantly, healthy linemen who can also play well. With a healthier option, a new player could be a better fit since he will be on the field more than Jenkins.
The Chicago Bears tried everything to try to keep Jenkins healthy. As a player progresses, he does not get healthier. The bumps and bruises accumulate and slow him down, especially as a lineman. He will just deal with more injuries. Having him miss at least a quarter of the season every year is not a recipe for success.
Jenkins is in the final year of his rookie deal. Unlike Fields, he does not have an option year. The Chicago Bears would need to decide if he should stay after the season and re-sign him to a bigger contract. The other option is to look for a trade partner.
At this point, it is difficult to project what Jenkins could fetch. However, just about any pick they get would be good. Poles is looking to acquire as many picks as he can. If he gets a fourth or even a fifth-round pick that would be a great move. He could even use that pick to find another offensive lineman.
If Poles doesn’t find a trade, he risks losing him for nothing. At this point, if Poles does not intend on re-signing Jenkins, that cannot happen.
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