Five ways the Bears could replace Alshon Jeffery
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INDIANAPOLIS — The Bears and Alshon Jeffery disagree on the wide receiver’s value. They’ll let the league’s other 31 teams decide.
The 3 p.m. deadline to offer Jeffery the franchise tag came and went Wednesday, so now his representatives will see how much other teams will offer him when free agency starts next Thursday.
“I think sometimes when you can’t come to a common ground with a player and an agent, sometimes it’s necessary to kind of test the market to determine that player’s value,” general manager Ryan Pace said. “And that’s really where we’re at.”
And that’s a dangerous place. Pace has warned about the pitfalls of big-game hunting in free agency.
“You’re stepping through land mines, and you’ve got to be careful you don’t step on the wrong one,” said Pace, the Saints’ former player-personnel director. “A lot of times these guys are available for a reason, so you have to sort through that. But I’m comfortable in free agency because that’s more of my background.”
The Bears say they have a plan in place if Jeffery decides to leave.
“Our free-agent board is stacked,” Pace said. “There are options in free agency. There are options in the draft. We’ll know a lot more in the coming week.”
Here are five players who could replace Jeffery:
The Bears aren’t ruling out a reunion.
Pace said giving Jeffery the franchise tag for a second-straight year wasn’t a realistic option, but Pace still expects to be in touch with Jeffery’s agent.
Coach John Fox said Jeffery “knows us better than anybody else he could potentially go to,” and that he had a “positive feeling” about Jeffery’s desire to return.
“Typically it comes down to the market value,” Fox said. “It’s like walking into a store right now at this time of year, and there’s no price tags.”
The pricing starts this week.
The former first-rounder
Pace said he receives daily reports on Kevin White, who continues to rehab from a broken lift fibula.
“Right now he’s getting his body all in alignment, and he’s feeling good,” Pace said. “When I see footage of kind of where he’s at now, I get excited.”
Pace admitted the Bears “haven’t seen a lot” from White as injuries have kept him out for all but four games in two years. He can’t be counted on as a No. 1 receiver, but the Bears are hoping for the best.
“We look forward to him definitely being 100 percent as we enter this season,” Fox said.
A mid-priced vet
Under Pace four years ago, the Saints drafted Kenny Stills, and now, after two years with the Dolphins, Stills’ market could exceed $10 million per year.
Stills led the league in yards per catch as a rookie and finished third last year, after he caught 42 passes for 726 yards.
For the right price, he’d be a nice fit next to White and Cam Meredith.
The Browns didn’t give the former Ohio State quarterback-turned-NFL-receiver the franchise tag.
“I think we’d like to have Terrelle back and that’s a priority for us,” executive vice president Sashi Brown said. “That said, we’re not going to panic if he’s not back.”
He’ll want big money, and he might be more risky than Jeffery.
A mid-round draftee
The Bears aren’t likely to use a first-round pick on Clemson’s Mike Williams or Western Michigan’s Corey Davis, but a middle-round dynamo like USC’s JuJu Smith-Schuster could be tempting.
Smith-Schuster, who has been compared to Brandon Marshall, is physical but not really fast.
Follow me on Twitter@patrickfinley.