The Chicago Bears will reportedly not use the franchise tag to lock up receiver Alshon Jeffery, which means he will now hit the open market.
#Bears are not expected to franchise Alshon Jeffery again at > $17M, sources say. A top WR on the market will generate lots of buzz in Indy
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 27, 2017
Chicago used the tag last year to secure Jeffery’s services, and it would have cost more than $17 million to use it again this year.
Though Jeffery is arguably the top receiver hitting free agency this March, it’s hard to argue the Bears are making the wrong decision here.
When healthy and on the field, Jeffery has proved himself capable of putting up huge totals, even when playing with the likes of Matt Barkley. Last year, appearing in 12 games, he hauled in 52 passes for 821 yards and two touchdowns. Throughout his career, Jeffery is averaging just under five receptions for 72 yards per game and has 26 touchdown receptions.
His best stretch came in 2013-14 when he played all 32 games. During that stretch, Jeffery caught 174 passes for 2,554 yards and 17 touchdowns.
A four-game PED suspension last season likely soured the Bears from offering a huge long-term commitment to Jeffery this offseason. Between that and his two injuries, the receiver has missed time in three of his five seasons with the club.
It’s going to be very interesting to see what kind of deal he brokers on the open market, given that baggage.