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Bears WR Alshon Jeffery stays mum on Halas Hall absence

Alshon Jeffery signed autographs at "Draft Town" on Saturday. (Sun-Times media)

Alshon Jeffery’s absence from Halas Hall carried over into silence Saturday.

The Bears wide receiver signed autographs as part of a corporate appearance for Courtyard by Marriott inside “Draft Town” in Grant Park.

He and his representatives, though, declined all requests for interviews.

Jeffery told Bears GM Ryan Pace before voluntary workouts began two weeks ago that he would instead train in Florida. The two sides are trying to reach a long-term deal by July 15. If not, Jeffery will play until the one-year franchise tag, worth $14.599 million.

In brief comments for fans on microphone, Jeffery was asked about his contract.

“I let Mr. Pace and my agent talk about it,” he said. “I’m just here to play football.”

Asked about his health — Jeffery missed seven regular-season games and all four preseason contests last year with soft tissue problems — Jeffery said, simply, that “I feel great.”

Coach John Fox said the Bears were making progress at Halas Hall, even with Jeffery not at workouts.

“Again you mentioned the key word there, ‘voluntary,’” Fox said. “I’ve talked with Alshon. He understands how I feel. We’ve had meetings and conditioning, and I’m sure he’s working out real hard.

“He’s a professional, but we look forward to him coming.”

Because he signed the tender, Jeffery is subject to fines if he skips the team’s mandatory minicamp in June.

Pace said earlier this week that he’d prefer that Jeffery train with his teammates.

“In a perfect world, would we like him to be here with his teammates and building those relationships? Sure,” Pace said Wednesday. “But I also understand it’s voluntary, and that’s the action he’s chosen to take.”

Pace offered little progress on negotiations, but wouldn’t bite when asked if Jeffery’s absence was a ploy.

“I think a lot of these franchise players haven’t reported to their teams,” Pace said. “I don’t know how I view it. I wish he was here, but it’s voluntary, so it is what it is.”