The Bears put the franchise tag on Alshon Jeffery last season to give Jeffery a chance to prove he deserved a top-dollar long-term contract. But a year later the situation is only more muddled.
Jeffery avoided the injuries that curtailed his 2015 season. But a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances cast doubt about his availability and prevented him from putting up numbers that demanded a big payday. Playing with three quarterbacks, Jeffery had 52 receptions for 821 yards (15.8 avg.) and two touchdowns in 12 games. And his cryptic responses to questions about his future make it hard to discern whether Jeffery truly wants to remain a Bear.
The franchise tag, expected to be around $17.0 million, is an option again, but it’s likely to be a long-term deal or bust for the Bears with Jeffery this year.
“I don’t feel he got into a rhythm that he would have liked to have gotten into,” Bears general manager Ryan Pace said. “I think that was because of a lot of different quarterbacks. He also missed four games. You know the chemistry that has to take place between [the receiver and quarterback]. I think Alshon expects more. I think he’s good player. And that’s a big decision for us.”
Despite the suspension, Pace seemed satisfied that Jeffery can stay healthy and stay clean.
“I thought he did a good job of taking care of his body this year,” Pace said. “[The suspension] was unfortunate. He is disappointed in himself and he’s looking to make up for it.”