12:20pm: The Bears are irked at Jeffery for missing their offseason workouts, according to Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole (video link), who adds that they don’t want to allocate top-tier money to the receiver position. Chicago would rather spread that type of cash around the roster, which is one reason it drafted wideout Kevin White in the first round last year.
8:04am: There’s only a week remaining for NFL teams to sign their franchise-tagged players to long-term contracts, and it looks as though Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery will enter the season without a new deal. As of now, “there’s not a lot of confidence” the Bears and Jeffery will reach an agreement by the cutoff, July 15 at 4 p.m. EDT, NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo said Thursday on NFL Total Access (link via Tyler Dragon of NFL.com). If Chicago doesn’t lock up Jeffery up by then, it won’t be able to negotiate with him again until the end of the season.
Jeffery – who has already signed the $14.6MM franchise tender and looks likely to play 2016 under that – is seeking a contract richer than the ones fellow receivers Doug Baldwin (Seahawks) and Allen Hurns (Jaguars) inked last month, according to Garafolo. Baldwin, 27, landed a four-year, $46MM extension that includes $24.25MM in guarantees, while the 24-year-old Hurns shook hands on a four-year pact worth over $40MM, $20MM of which is guaranteed.
Jeffrey, 26, has been the most productive of the three when healthy, but the Bears are concerned about his injury history, per Garafolo. The 6-foot-3, 216-pounder missed six games during his rookie season, 2012, because of hand and knee injuries and sat out seven contests last year on account of calf, hamstring, groin and shoulder issues. Still, in the nine games he did appear, Jeffrey was eminently productive, piling up 54 catches for 807 yards and four touchdowns. Since his breakout in 2013, the former second-round pick from South Carolina has amassed 228 receptions, 3,361 yards and 21 scores in 41 regular-season games. Impressively, those numbers average out to 89 grabs, 1,312 yards and eight TDs per 16 games.
Given his elite on-field output and size, Jeffrey will certainly put himself in position to earn a substantial payday next winter if he’s able to mimic his healthy 2013 and ’14 campaigns. Whether that money come from the Bears remains to be seen, of course. For now, it appears the two sides are content to enter 2016 without long-term security in place for Jeffery.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.