Bears give Alshon Jeffery franchise tag

SHARE Bears give Alshon Jeffery franchise tag
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CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 13: Bashaud Breeland #26 of the Washington Redskins breaks up a pass intended for Alshon Jeffery #17 of the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 13, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Redskins defeated the Bears 24-21. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Bears said Monday they are giving Alshon Jeffery the franchise tag, guaranteeing their star receiver $14.559 million next season but, in a more likely outcome, allowing them to negotiate a long-term contract in the coming months.

The team and the wide receiver’s representation negotiated before and during the NFL Scouting Combine and seem to be in position to get a long-term deal done, eventually. GM Ryan Pace said last week Jeffery wanted to play for the Bears.

The Bears have until July 15 to negotiate a long-term deal with their receiver; otherwise he must play the 2016 season under the $14.599 million, one-year agreement.

Jeffery isn’t going anywhere. Technically, because Jeffery’s tag is “non-exclusive,” another team can offer him a long-term deal. The Bears would have the opportunity to match, though; if they didn’t, the signing team would owe the Bears two first-round picks.

The Bears had until 3 p.m. Tuesday to announce their franchise tag decision. Tagging him was always the most likely outcome, as Jeffery’s talent outweighed concerns about his health. He had 54 catches for 807 receiving yards and four scores last season, but sat out seven games and four preseason games while dealing with various maladies.

Pace and coach John Fox have noted that he was healthy in the two seasons prior, however. And when he was on the field last season, he was a star; Jeffery’s 89.7 yards per game were eighth-best in the league.

“I think being in Year 2 with a player helps a lot just understanding his body and his body mechanics,” Pace said last week. “I know him and his agent are doing some things, too, to improve on that. When he gets back, we’ll have a plan in place. It’s important.”

Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com

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