Despite moving on with the ever-popular Matt Forte, this 2016 offseason seems to be headed in the right direction for the Chicago Bears. According to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, the Bears have decided to place their franchise tag on wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. The good news is that Chicago will definitely have Jeffery for the upcoming year. However, there is still the possibility that Jeffery could leave in 2017.
I think it’s obvious that Jeffery’s injury-plagued 2015 season is the reason why general manager Ryan Pace has approached this situation so cautiously. Although the 2012 second-round draft pick led the Bears in receptions (54) and receiving yards (807) last year, he still missed seven games due to hamstring, calf, and shoulder injuries. For Chicago’s sake, I hope that his timid tactic doesn’t hurt them in the long run.
Players who are slapped with a franchise tag or who are on the final year of their contract tend to have great seasons, which leads to numerous teams wanting them during the offseason. If Jeffery does have a spectacular 2016 year, then outbidding other teams could become difficult, and there is a greater chance that the Bears could lose their biggest threat on offense.
Maybe locking up Jeffery with a long-term deal could have been a smarter move. Let’s not forget that there is still a good chance that the Bears will trade tight end Martellus Bennett this offseason. If that happens, and Jeffery decides to leave the Windy City in 2017, then Chicago will be without two huge targets in the passing game. Another reason why the Bears should’ve given Jeffery a multiyear contract is because of Kevin White.
Last year, Chicago invested their seventh overall pick on the dynamic White in order to have him complement Jeffery in the passing game. If that was Pace’s primary reason for drafting White, then why not make sure that both receivers are guaranteed to be on the roster for years to come?
All in all, Pace and the rest of the Bears’ front office did the right thing in quickly securing Jeffery for at least one more year, and preventing him from testing the free-agent market. Let’s just hope that this one year can turn into several more for Jeffery in Chicago.