The Teven Jenkins saga has turned into quite the reality show for the Chicago Bears this summer. The former 2021 second-round pick went from being a starter at right tackle to missing in action at training camp. He was the subject of trade rumors sparked by ESPN’s Adam Schefter and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport before changing positions and earning the starting job at right guard.
Seems like a happy ending, right? Not so much.
Jenkins met with the media this week and didn’t sound like a player who’s ready to close the book on a tumultuous offseason. Perhaps, the last couple of months have him taking nothing for granted. Or, maybe he really doesn’t know what his future holds with the Chicago Bears.
“I still say it’s up in the air right now,” Jenkins said of his spot on the roster. “There’s nothing solidified right now. Even if you make the 53-man roster, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be here tomorrow.”
It isn’t uncommon for players to say things like that. The NFL is a tough business and nothing can be taken for granted. But Teven Jenkins’ concerns reach deeper than the instability that comes with a pro football career.
“To be honest, I got unhappy, I was very unhappy,” Jenkins said. “Then, as it kept going on because more talks kept coming, I was getting more unhappy about hearing about them and everything. A lot of unhappiness. A lot of talks, what I had to do with me and my agent, just a lot of things had to go down for me to be at the point where I’m at. Just start settling down and start getting ready.”
It’s obvious the trade speculation and rumors of Jenkins’ immaturity and clashes with coaches impacted his state of mind. But what’s concerning is the lingering effect it’s having. Jenkins seems genuinely insulted and unhappy with the Bears.
“I’m still trying to wrap my mind around that right now,” he said of all the offseason turmoil. “Trying to get passed what happened. Look forward to the season. It’s just about getting into the film about the 49ers. That helps me because I have a game to worry about and I shouldn’t worry about anything in the past.”
Jenkins still doesn’t feel like the Bears are truly committed to him, apparently.
“There were many times I was wondering [if I would be here],” Jenkins said. “I was even wondering that today. I’m just not sure about my future at all right now. Ultimately, I still can [be traded]. It’s just about attacking every day.”
Players are free to feel how they want. It’s personal. They have a right to respond to team decisions and speculation like any other person. But at some point, there’s a certain level of professionalism that’s expected. Jenkins, in a week where his primary competition for a starting job was cut, doesn’t sound like a guy ready to go all-in for the Bears. Instead, it almost seems like he’d prefer to be traded. Again, that’s his right to feel that way. But with the 2022 season less than two weeks away, it’s also time to move on.
Hopefully, Teven Jenkins will reach a point that he feels the level of appreciation and value he’s seeking from the Chicago Bears. Until then, he’ll be counted on to be a critical piece of an offensive line charged with protecting quarterback Justin Fields.