Don’t expect Chicago Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery—arguably the most talented offensive player in this year’s free agency class—to hit the open market next month.
Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune said Wednesday there is “no way” the Bears will allow Jeffery to get to free agency. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported something similar, stating the Bears are “expected to retain Jeffery,” either on a long-term deal or via the franchise tag.
“We’re actively and aggressively negotiating right now,” Bears general manager Ryan Pace said at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. “We understand the deadline is Tuesday for the franchise tag. That’s an option. We have until Tuesday to make that decision.”
Jeffery, 26, caught 54 passes for 804 yards and four touchdowns over nine games last season. He produced over 80 catches and 1,000 receiving yards in both 2013 and 2014.
A Pro Bowler with 24 career receiving touchdowns, Jeffery likely wants to get paid along the lines of Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant. Both receivers signed deals worth at least $70 million last offseason. However, the Bears may be negotiating a smaller deal, potentially using Jeffery’s injury history against him.
If the two sides can’t find common ground by next week, the Bears can use the franchise tag and extend the negotiating period to July.
Either way, Jeffery won’t be getting a chance to chase the treasures of free agency. The Bears will have their top receiver back in 2016.