It is incredible how fast Teven Jenkins went from possible franchise tackle to trade bait. The Chicago Bears traded up to get him in the 2nd round last year. It’s rather fitting things went this bad. It represents the perfect microcosm of Ryan Pace’s tenure as GM. Too many times, he traded up for players that weren’t worth the price tags paid to get them. People aren’t sure what is going on with Jenkins. Head coach Matt Eberflus insists it’s injury-related. Insiders like David Kaplan and Jeff Hughes claim it is more of a mental issue.
Neither possibility is comforting. News soon broke the Bears were entertaining trade ideas for their second-year tackle. That makes for an unprecedented fall from grace. Picks that high rarely get traded after one season, especially at such an important position. It leads to the obvious question of what they may or may not receive in return for him. So I did some research. Near as I can tell, there are only two instances since 1994 when a highly-drafted tackle (1st or 2nd round) was traded after one year.
Billy Milner in 1996 and Isaiah Wilson in 2021.
The Miami Dolphins drafted Milner 25th overall in 1995. A year later, they sent him to the St. Louis Rams in exchange for tight end Troy Drayton. The reasons for his trade likely had to do with a regime change. Longtime head coach Don Shula retired in 1996. His replacement Jimmie Johnson wanted to overhaul the roster, and Milner was one of several moves. As for Wilson, his rookie year was a disaster in Tennessee. He landed on the COVID list multiple times and clashed with coaches. The Titans grew fed up, packaging him and a 7th round pick to get a higher 7th round pick from Miami.
That might be the limit of what the Bears can expect in any trade involving Jenkins. Either a player-for-player exchange or a late round pick. Yes, he’s a high draft choice who is still young, but Jenkins already had serious questions about his back and now has concerns about motivation surrounding him. Teams aren’t going to pay a premium for that.
#NFL source confirms #ChicagoBears actively trying to trade OL @TevenJenkins who fell out of favor early w/new staff. Contrary to HC Eberflus saying Jenkins absence is 100% injury related … Jenkins is at the facility working with trainers but missed 6th straight practice
— Peggy Kusinski (@peggykusinski) August 3, 2022
All the folks saying it would be a mistake for the #Bears to part ways with Teven Jenkins now need to understand there is a new regime in place with no ties to ANY inherited players.
You know what a bigger mistake was? Cutting Charles Leno, which led to drafting Jenkins.
— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) August 1, 2022
Teven Jenkins must return soon.
It isn’t clear if the Bears are sitting him out on purpose or not. If that is not the case, the young tackle’s situation only worsens with each missed practice. He must get back on the field and show the coaches he cares. The best scenario for all involved is him re-entering the competition and performing well. The Bears’ offensive line is struggling in training camp thus far. Jenkins was drafted to help fix that problem. He is still their most talented lineman, but he can’t help if he’s not out there.
If they trade him, GM Ryan Poles is more likely to see draft compensation. He likes to stack picks whenever possible, gaining extra flexibility. However, if a player swap becomes an option, then keep an eye on the wide receivers and linebackers. The Bears have question marks at both positions. They could even swap Teven Jenkins for an offensive lineman from another team. Such exchanges have happened before.
Poles was even part of one.
It happened in 2013 when the Chiefs and 49ers swapped wide receivers Jonathan Baldwin and A.J. Jenkins. He has already proven willing to cut loose players he doesn’t feel fit what the Bears need. Jenkins may not be in Chicago by the end of the month.