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Alshon Jeffery to ‘test market,’ Bears GM won’t rule out return

INDIANAPOLIS — The Bears and Alshon Jeffery don’t agree on the wide receiver’s value, so they’ll let the market decide.

General manager Ryan Pace said the team won’t offer him the franchise tag — whose deadline is at 3 p.m. Wednesday — and that the receiver will then be able to determine what he’s worth. He wouldn’t rule out a reunion with the receiver, either.

“I think sometimes when you can’t come to a common ground with a player and agent, sometimes it’s necessary to kinda test the market to determine a player’s value,” Pace said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “That’s where we’re at. He’s a good player and we’ll see how that plays out. But there’s certain instances where testing the market is a necessary part of the process.”

Jeffery and his representatives should have a better idea of what other teams would pay for him after the combine. Negotiations with unrestricted free agents begin Tuesday, and deals can be made official March 9. It’s possible that Jeffery finds a deal more rich than the Bears were willing to pay.

Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery won't get the franchise tag this year. (AP)

Pace said he has a “good sense” that Jeffery would want to return, but “these contract negotiations can be complicated.” Tagging Jeffery for the second-straight season was “really wasn’t an option for us,” he said.

“Well, I’d say he knows us better than anybody else he could potentially go to,” coach John Fox said. “I think it’s a positive feeling. With typically these things, it comes down to the market value. It’s like walking into a store right now at this time of year and there’s no price tags. We kind of develop that moving forward. My experience has been that’s a very fluid process.”

If Jeffery were to leave, the Bears would be left with former first-round pick Kevin White, who has played only four games in two years, and Cam Meredith, who caught 66 passes in his second season, as their top receivers. They’d likely pursue a veteran free agent, too.

Fox said White is “doing really well in his rehab,” and said the team looks forward to him “definitely being 100 percent as we enter this season.”