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Teven Jenkins' Bears future ‘up in air' with no contract extension offer ‘on table' yet

Teven Jenkins wants to remain a Bear, but he has boxes to check to earn that contract extension

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Teven Jenkins wants to remain a Bear for the long haul, but it takes two to tango.

The fourth-year offensive lineman is entering the final year of his rookie contract and does not yet have clarity on if he'll have a future in Chicago after this fall.

"We reached out but nothing is on the table," Jenkins said Wednesday after the second day of mandatory minicamp when asked if he is in negotiations with the Bears on an extension.

"Up in the air," Jenkins said when asked if he and the Bears' front office have a mutual interest in an extension.

Things started rocky between Jenkins and the current regime in 2022 after general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus arrived.

Jenkins started the offseason as a first-string right tackle but was quickly moved down the depth chart, which led to trade rumors during the summer. Jenkins found himself working with the second and third teams early in the preseason before moving inside to guard.

Jenkins quickly became a top-level interior offensive lineman, but health issues late in 2022 and early in 2023 cost him important time on the field.

After playing in 23 of 34 games over the past two seasons, Jenkins is focusing on being available as he enters a contract season.

"Stay healthy. That’s number one and of the utmost importance for me right now," Jenkins said. "Stay healthy, get through the whole 17 games and continue my strong play from last year, and be a more consistent, reliable guy."

Poles has already rewarded cornerback Jaylon Johnson and tight end Cole Kmet, two guys he didn't draft, with contract extensions.

That should give Jenkins hope that he can be the third non-Poles guy to cement himself as a foundational pillar, but he knows business is business at the end of the day.

"It’s good to see that stuff that the Bears are willing to do that," Jenkins said. "But every situation is different. We have to go about it, me and my agent, however the upstairs wants to do it."

Two years ago, there were questions about Jenkins' maturity and whether he fit in the long-term plans of the Bears' new regime.

Jenkins bought into his position change and has become a dedicated professional over the past two seasons, drawing praise from Eberflus and offensive line coach Chris Morgan.

"In every aspect," Morgan said of how Jenkins has grown in the last two years after rookie minicamp wrapped up. "He's maturing as a person. He's maturing as a player. He's a dad now. He's a husband now. It's really cool to see how much growth there has been from him. He's done a great job of taking it day by day, becoming consistent. There's a lot of people involved in that, too. It has been really cool to see the organization get behind him. It's easy to get behind a guy who plays like he plays. We all love Tev. He's only going to get better and better."

The health issues are the main question mark for Jenkins as he enters the final season of his contract.

If he can stay healthy and play at the level he has over the past two seasons, there's reason to believe a contract extension will materialize.

But there are clearly boxes Jenkins must check in order to earn that extension.

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