Amid a weekend of rumors and innuendos , the Bears officially placed the franchise tag on wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey this afternoon, Larry Mayer of Chicagobears.com reports.
The tag precludes Jeffery from becoming an unrestricted free agent while guaranteeing him a one-year contract worth $14.599 million, equal to the average of the NFL’s five highest paid receivers.
The Bears can still sign Jeffery to a long-term deal through July 15. After that point, he may only sign a one-year contract with the Bears for the 2016 season and that deal cannot be extended until after the regular season.
Jeffrey played in only 9 games this past seasons for the Bears due to injury but totaled 54 catches for 807 yards and 4 touchdowns. Jeffery ranks 10th on the Bears’ all-time receiving list in catches (252), eighth in yards (3,728) and 11th in touchdowns (24). His 3,728 yards are the most in franchise history by any player in his first four seasons with the Bears.
Now, heading in the next year the Bears starting receivers will be Kevin White and Jeffrey starting at the wideouts and Eddie Royal in the slot, a combination that was together zero times this past fall due to injuries. Jay Cutler might actually have a few guys worthy of being called NFL receivers this year which has not happened since the Bears shipped Brandon Marshall to the Jets.