By Chris Emma–
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (CBS) — Alshon Jeffery is set to hit the open market as the top receiver available, with Bears general manager Ryan Pace confirming that the team won’t tender Jeffery the franchise tag for a second straight offseason.
Jeffery, 27, will test the open market as a free agent. Pace and the Bears are still negotiating with Jeffery and his party, led by Tory Dandy of CAA Sports.
“It’s thought out thoroughly,” Pace said Wednesday at the NFL Combine. “I think sometimes, you can’t come to a common ground with a player and an agent, sometimes it’s necessary to test the market to determine that player’s value. That’s really where we’re at.
“He’s a good player, and we’ll see how it plays out. But I think there are certain instances where testing the market is a necessary part of the process.”
Jeffery was given the franchise tag last offseason after an injury-riddled 2015 campaign in which he missed seven games. Jeffery had 52 catches for 821 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games this past season, missing four contests for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
Jeffery has played just two full seasons in his five-year NFL career, those coming in 2014 and 2015. He posted 17 touchdowns in that span, including 10 in 2014.
Tagging Jeffery two years in a row “wasn’t really an option for us,” Pace said. With the Bears potentially losing Jeffery when the new league year begins next week, Pace is preparing his contingency plans.
“There’s options in free agency, there’s options in the draft. We’ll see how things play out,” he said.
“We have plans in place for every one of those scenarios.”