It’s now official: the Chicago Bears and Alshon Jeffery have failed to reach an agreement on a long-term contract and will have to wait until the end of the season to negotiate a new deal.
The tag deadline has come and gone. Alshon Jeffery will play 2016 on the franchise tag. This was the expected outcome since March. #Bears
— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) July 15, 2016
In the meantime, Jeffery will play under the $14.6 million franchise tag he signed back in March. After missing voluntary workouts earlier in the summer, the 4th-year wide receiver attended mandatory minicamp and is not expected to hold out of training camp at all.
The 3 pm CST deadline brought about what has been viewed as a foregone conclusion for months. Jeffery was unwilling to accept a contract that would pay him as anything less than an elite receiver—$14+ million per year and $25+ million guaranteed approximately, based on top WR salaries—while the Bears were unwilling to invest such significant money in him yet due to his injury history.
Ultimately, all that remains now is to see what the season brings.
If Jeffery is able to put him numbers reminiscent of his 2013 and 2014 campaigns (89 rec, 1,421 yds, 8 TDs in 2013; 85 rec, 1,133 yds, 10 TDs in 2014) over 16 games, the Bears could be faced with an interesting decision: pay him as a top receiver, or let someone else do it.
If he struggles with injuries again, the Bears could theoretically slap the franchise tag on him again for another year. That outcome, however, might all but assure that Jeffery will soon be playing elsewhere. Or perhaps they will allow him to walk away if they feel they have enough in Kevin White and their other receivers to continue forward without him.
What all parties ultimately want, regardless of the business side of the equation, is a healthy, productive season from Jeffery. How he will be rewarded for his efforts is now a question for 5-6 months from now.