The Bears are expected to keep wide receiver Alshon Jeffery in the mix and off the open market, either by re-signing him to a long-term contract or using their franchise tag on him, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
General manager Ryan Pace spoke to reporters today about Jeffery, indicating that the team is “aggressively” negotiating with the wideout now in an effort to lock him up to a new deal, per Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter links). Pace, who said he gets the sense that Jeffery wants to remain in Chicago, said that using the franchise tag is on the table as a potential outcome.
A report last week suggested that the Bears were still undecided on whether or not to tag Jeffery, but it sounds as if the team is becoming more inclined to go that route, if no contract extension is agreed upon. March 1st is the deadline for clubs to use their franchise or transition tags, so Pace and the Bears figure to continue working on a multiyear deal up until that deadline.
After averaging 87 receptions and 1,277 yards in 2013 and 2014, Jeffery was plagued by injuries in 2015, but he was excellent when healthy, averaging a career-high 89.7 yards per game. If he is franchised by the Bears, he’ll be in line for a salary north of $14MM for 2016. He could still work out a longer-term agreement with the team by July 15th, or play the season on the one-year tag.
Pace also briefly mentioned another one of the team’s key offensive free-agents-to-be today, telling reporters that the Bears like tight end Zach Miller. However, Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets that it sounds as if Miller will test free agency before considering signing a new deal with Chicago, in order to get a sense of his value on the open market. According to Cambell (via Twitter), it sounds like linebacker Shea McClellin will also reach the open market, but bother players could re-sign with the Bears if the price is right.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.