Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune addresses the Bears situation with wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery, due to become a free agent, missed a number of games with soft tissue injuries last season and his production was reduced:
“‘I think being in Year 2 with a player helps a lot in just understanding his body and his body mechanics,’ [general manager Ryan] Pace said. ‘I know (Alshon) and his agent are doing some things, too, to improve on that. So when he gets back, we’ll have a plan in place. It’s important.'”
“Jeffery began his offseason training by enrolling at Unbreakable Performance, a Los Angeles facility run by Brian Urlacher and Jay Glazer, a close friend of Fox’s.”
“‘Things I’ve heard have been real positive from both sides,’ Fox said, ‘from both Alshon and the people there at Jay’s gym.'”
A few important points:
- There can now be little doubt that the Bears will franchise Jeffery. There’s always been this niggling doubt that Jeffery really wants to be back with the Bears or that the Bears might not be happy with him. The fact that Fox has been staying in touch with him and tracking his training progress along with Pace’s assertion that he senses that Jeffery wants to be back indicate to me that there’s no real dissatisfaction with the relationship between player and team. There can now be little doubt that they will do what they have to to keep him.
- Given the concern expressed by both Pace and Jeffery’s agent, Eugene Parker, you’d have to guess that both will be working to get Jeffery in for offseason training. The standard procedure when it comes to the franchise tag is to get the deal done at the last minute when there’s more urgency to get things done with a deadline approaching. But based upon the above comments you’d have to guess that perhaps there will be a little more urgency to get things done soon so that Jeffery won’t miss workouts.
- Give the last item, you also have to wonder if the contract won’t be structured to give Jeffery motivation to stay in shape and to do that proper things to prevent his soft tissue problems in the future. I’m thinking that there’s more than the usual likelihood that we’ll see an incentive laden contract. Not necessarily a performance based one but perhaps one with some terms that provide a bonus if, for instance, Jeffery hits certain weight goals or other such similar milestones. A cleverly designed contract could be very satisfactory for both sides.