Worrying about the Status of Alshon Jeffery

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:

“Would you agree that if Ryan Pace doesn’t sign Alshon Jeffrey he should be fired? Four years at $15 million per year sounds about right. Dumping Matt Forte was stupid enough. A running back who has cared for his body so well was certainly a low-risk — even at 30 — and was willing to sign a Bears-friendly contract, even for a single year. Two such decisions, although meant to make Pace appear bold and decisive, would tell us that he is instead doing more harm than good and not ready for GM responsibilities. — Bob W., Saxtons River, Vt.

“Whoa! Let’s tap the brakes here. For starters, signing Jeffery to a multi-year contract involves a negotiation and it takes two parties to get a deal done. I would imagine Jeffery will be seeking a five-year contract because the longer the deal, the larger the guarantee for him. That is also in line with what Julio Jones, Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas received in the last year – five-year contract extensions. I would imagine securing a long-term contract for Jeffery is a priority, but Pace can’t do a deal by himself. I’d believe the Bears want to be below $15 million per season in an annual average too but the market continues to climb.”

Biggs goes on to explain why the decision to let Forte go wasn’t necessarily a bad one and why the comparison between Forte’s situation and Jeffery’s isn’t a valid one.

On the surface, giving Jeffery the franchise tag and negotiating a long-tem contract would seem to be a no brainer:

  • He’s their only candidate for the tag.
  • They have plenty of cap space.
  • He’s by far their best proven playmaker.
  • He’s still young in his mid-twenties.
  • He wasn’t healthy last year but that hasn’t been his history.

It’s the last of these points that worries me. Though I say he hasn’t had an injury history, technically what I mean is that he doesn’t have a history of missing games. There are no indications from the Bears as to what they’re going to do with Jeffery but persistent rumors that he doesn’t take care of his body like he should and that it has resulted in the soft tissues problems that he, in actuality, has typically exhibited have me worried. Much though I dislike the idea, there is a possibility that the Bears won’t apply the tag, effectively letting Jeffery go to collect big money on the free agent market that the Bears are unlikely to match.

If the Bears decide that Jeffery isn’t worth the franchise tag it would be a crushing blow. The idea of having both Jeffery and fellow wide receiver Kevin White on the field at the same time next season presented a strength – perhaps the only strength – that the Bears would have. Letting him go because he’s not the player that we on the outside thought he was would mean that the roster is just that much farther away from being what you need to compete consistently.

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