We’re all aware of Alshon Jeffery‘s free agency and the Bears so far being non-committal on his return. Will they bring him back or won’t they? If they let him walk what are the options?
So let’s start with a good old fashioned player comparison.
85 catches, 1113 yards, 10 touchdowns
109 catches, 1447 yards, 10 touchdowns
Player A is Alshon Jeffery.
Player B is Kevin White his last year at West Virginia.
Both of those seasons were in 2014.
So first things first. The Bears were not supposed to be in this situation. In a time of struggle and in the midst of a slow rebuild the wide receiver position was supposed to be crystal clear at this point. But after two seasons of injuries, lack of production, and a PED suspension, both players have left the Bears in tricky spot.
After posting back-to-back 1000+ yard seasons in ’13 and ’14 with 17 touchdowns in that time Jeffery looked like a sure bet for a big contract extension with the Bears and a lock to be an offensive force for years to come. Now after two seasons of just barely cracking 800 yards and a measly six total scores, general manager Ryan Pace has no idea what his decision should be regarding the free agent wide receiver.
That’s where Kevin White was supposed to make this situation easier. White was supposed to provide insurance as the potential future no. 1 in the event that Jeffery didn’t warrant an extension, and if Jeffery did then together they were supposed to transform the Bears offense into one of the most fearsome in the league.
Of course we know now how that worked out. We’ve gotten 19 total receptions from White and a PED suspension from Jeffery.
I like to imagine Ryan Pace sitting in his office staring at a post-it note on his desk with “Alshon?” scrawled on it. It’s a big question obviously and it could affect the rebuild significantly. So what does Pace do?
Gamble on the upside of Jeffery and risk getting burned? Or gamble on Kevin White to finally get healthy and return to his college form and for Cameron Meridith to keep up his breakout?
It’s a pick your poison type of situation but also one that carries serious implications. If Alshon leaves that’s putting a lot of faith in two unproven receivers, one with four career games and another with a single “breakout” year/the former quarterback at Illinois State University. But on the other side of that coin if Alshon stays and keeps getting hurt and continues to not produce then that’s a lot of money locked up in someone whose mediocre production could easily be replaced by the aforementioned other two.
Then there’s always the scenario that Alshon walks, is scooped up by another team (looking at you, Patriots) and becomes the superstar he showed flashes of two years ago. That scenario is the scariest because if Pace does miss on Jeffery and he helps another quarterback make it to the playoffs and win a Superbowl then that hangs over Pace forever.
It’s a decision with many moving parts and one that isn’t likely to come soon.