Poles can send a clear message if he decides to trade Jenkins originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
When he took over as Bears general manager, Ryan Poles gave every player a clean slate. But he never specified how long each player’s trial period would last.
In Teven Jenkins’ case, the answer is becoming clear. While talented and full of potential, the former second-round pick does not have a place in the long-term plans for the Poles-Matt Eberflus Bears.
On Sunday, NBC Sports Chicago’s David Kaplan reported the Bears were having issues with Jenkins’ immaturity and that the young tackle wasn’t gelling well with offensive line coach Chris Morgan.
Twenty-four hours later, NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported that the Bears had received and made trade calls involving Jenkins.
Could this be a last-ditch motivational effort by Poles? Perhaps. But it’s more likely that the clock has run out.
Poles and Eberflus didn’t draft Jenkins. They didn’t trade valuable draft capital to move up and select a young tackle with maturity issues and back problems. They didn’t cut Charles Leno Jr. before Jenkins had even played a snap.
He’s not their mistake to own or fix. If they don’t see a place for him in their world order, there’s no reason to keep him around.
When Poles and Eberflus were brought on, they told Jenkins he would move back to his preferred position of right tackle. Jenkins seemed excited about the move and aware that he, like everyone else on the roster, would have to earn their place in the Bears’ future.
After a handful of offseason practices, Eberflus moved Jenkins to the second team. The company line was that the Bears were “searching” for the right offensive line combination. It was believable, but the more likely answer was always that Jenkins didn’t meet the standard set by the new staff.
Training camp arrived last week. The Bears signed offensive tackle Riley Reiff, giving them a veteran presence in a room filled with young tackles. It’s becoming apparent that the signing was due to Jenkins’ issues and not Braxton Jones’ youth.
Jenkins worked as an extra eligible blocker in heavy sets during his lone practice. He saw zero first-string reps. The Oklahoma State product now has missed the last four practices with what Eberflus has called a “day-to-day” injury. The Bears are being very opaque about the situation. We don’t know if Jenkins’ back has flared up, if he has an illness, or if his absence is due to something non-injury related. The Bears don’t have to disclose anything, so they aren’t.
What’s clear is that Jenkins could be the ideal player for Poles to use to send a message to the rest of the roster in prove-it mode.
It doesn’t matter where you were drafted or how talented you might be. If you don’t fit our plan, then there’s no reason for you to be here.
An argument could be made for keeping Jenkins this season and trying to mold him into, at the very least, a serviceable swing tackle.
It’s unlikely the trade return for Jenkins will be anything to write home about. He’s a former second-round pick with limited starts and a history of back trouble and immaturity. Some team will take a flier on him, but an early Day 3 pick is probably the best the Bears can get.
Should Poles trade Jenkins, he can sleep soundly knowing no fault rests on his shoulders. He was brought in to remodel the franchise. Knock out the retaining wall, rip up the floorboards, rewire the house, and make it into his vision of a hard-nosed, winning football team.
No part of his job description says he has to win with Ryan Pace’s players.
If Poles already knows Jenkins doesn’t have a place in the Bears’ future, there’s no reason to keep him. Get what you can and wash your hands instead of fighting an uphill battle trying to make a square peg fit in a round hole.
Every player on the Bears’ roster must show that they can be part of the solution for Poles and Eberflus. Not the answer for the 2022 season, but for a multi-year plan to build a sustained winner. For this to succeed, each part has to fit seamlessly in the right spot.
It appears Teven Jenkins might have already done the opposite. If that’s the case, the Bears have no reason to keep him around.
Click here to follow the Under Center Podcast.
Download MyTeams Today!