The Chicago Bears have been playing with fire when it comes to big names. Things were rocky with Lance Briggs when he was around. Brandon Marshall has the passion that you like to root for, but his personality proved to be too much for them. Matt Forte has played at an elite level over his career, but he’s moved onto visually greener pastures to the New York Jets, reuniting with Marshall. Now, Alshon Jeffery, one of the best players on the team and one of the best receivers in the league, got franchised tagged and is rumored to be offered a deal similar to what Jacksonville inked Allen Hurns to.
First of all, could they not act like the Chicago Bulls front office? It’s not a good thing to be compared to the Bulls in that regard.
I’m actually someone that saw Hurns’ breakout coming early. I’ve kept my eye on the Jaguars since Blake Bortles came into the picture. Hurns is a deep threat that went undrafted. Before an injury during his rookie season, he flashed big play ability and a nose for the endzone. He and Allen Robinson have developed to form an elite wide receiver tandem right underneath your nose and they’re only entering their third season. Robinson, as you may know, was drafted in the 2nd round in 2014. After that draft, Hurns signed on as an undrafted free agent. Robinson made the Pro Bowl last season.
Jeffery, like Robinson, was a 2nd round pick that has also made a Pro Bowl. As planned by the previous regime, Jeffery developed to take the baton from Marshall. Generally, the Bears are not a franchise that pays a premium at the wide receiver position. Every player has his pros and cons. In Jeffery’s case, it seems like he loses focus. I don’t really want to hear about dropped passes because that is common with players that are targeted so often. Similar to a point guard that handles the ball every play, of course they are prone to committing more turnovers. Jeffery is a stud receiver that makes the tough grabs, especially along the sideline, and he’s also established himself as an elite red zone target with some sensational highlights. He’s earned a bigger contract than what Hurns received. This is a guy that once caught 10 touchdowns in a season, over 1,400 yards in another season, and part of what you’re paying for is the untapped potential that you’ve seen streaks of.
Sure, it’s great to have everyone on the same page to show up to voluntary practices. Those situations never really worry me because in most instances, the player shows up to the mandatory practices. The whole voluntary thing, that’s the only time a player can be a no-show, whether it be for family and vacation purposes, or to prove a point. We all know that teams have all the leverage in negotiations. Players come and go, but the constant disrespect that Chicago has displayed to their best players is just flat out dumb. The locker room started to change as key veterans were let go over the past handful of years. We’re witnessing a classic purge by a new regime that would be wise to get Jeffery off the franchise tag by extending him to a long-term deal.
Under the franchise tag Jeffery is slated to earn $14.6 million for the 2016 season. The Bears are said to be working on numbers similar to what Hurns received this offseason, which is $40 million for 4 years. It’s been reported that Jeffery is seeking around $70 million to stay in Chicago. The Bears did draft Kevin White a year ago, who was injured during his rookie season. Maybe, they only want Jeffery as a stop-gap until White can grab the torch as they’re hoping. I would think that they see them as the duo of the future, but perhaps they don’t want to overpay at the position. Well, overpay from their perspective. I would show him the money.
With a second-year general manager in Ryan Pace, defensive-minded head coach in John Fox, and a first-time offensive coordinator in Dowell Loggains, you would think that this would have been an offseason priority to set the tone. They are clearly content with the franchise tag. Maybe the just want to see Jeffery prove his worth by showing that he can continue to develop. It’s all part of the process, I just think that the franchise has been too rigid without reason. Jeffery watched some key leaders move on, for whatever the reasons may be. I think that he would want out if he has to play the entire season under the tag. The good news is that he is taken care of financially for 2016, and still catching passes in a Bears’ uniform. Plus, there’s a few more months before the season even starts for the two sides to come to terms.