By Chris Emma–
INDIANAPOLIS (CBS) — Speaking Wednesday morning at the NFL Combine, Bears general manager Ryan Pace made it clear that the team won’t let receiver Alshon Jeffery hit the open market.
As Tuesday’s deadline to tender the franchise tag nears, Pace stated that the team is actively negotiating a long-term deal with Jeffery’s veteran agent, Eugene Parker.
“I sense that he wants to be here,” Pace said.
Jeffery finished the 2015 season with 54 catches for 807 yards and four touchdowns but missed seven games with injuries to four different soft-tissue muscles. In his contract season, he created concern for his injury status.
The Bears have no intentions to let Jeffery leave in free agency, a source has said. If a long-term deal can’t be reached, the franchise tag will keep Jeffery in Chicago on a one-year deal for around $14.5 million.
Bears coach John Fox offered a vote of confidence in Jeffery, stating how the receiver’s productivity over four seasons shouldn’t be diminished by one injury-plagued season. Jeffery had played two full seasons prior to 2015.
“I don’t think it’s fair to take one segment of it and define him on that,” Fox said of Jeffery.
“When he’s healthy, we’ve liked his production.”
Pace also declined to comment on the future of tight end Martellus Bennett, whose outspoken nature could lead to a trade this offseason.
Wednesday marks the beginning of the NFL Combine, with Pace and much of his front office scouting players in preparation of their nine draft picks.