Alshon Jeffery is one of 29 Chicago Bears entering their last year under contract, but he's clearly the one with the most talent and youth on his side to warrant an extension. General manager Ryan Pace seems content to allow 2015 to play out before handing out any new money, but that could backfire on him.
Jeffery is a Pro Bowl player, but he's yet to establish himself as the true Alpha wide out on his own team. He racked up very good numbers playing alongside Brandon Marshall, so I think it's safe to say Jeffery is in a tier below the elite receivers in the game.
But that could change this season.
Yesterday was the deadline to sign your franchise tagged players to a long term deal and two wide receivers cashed in. Dallas' Dez Bryant inked a 5 year deal worth $70 million and $45 million guaranteed, and Denver's Demaryius Thomas agreed to a 5 year contract worth $70 million, but only $43.75 million in guaranteed money.
Both of those contracts are behind the 7 year, $113,450,000 that Detroit's Calvin Johnson signed in 2012, but there are now eight wide outs that make 8 figures annually.
That number should jump next year.
Jeffery is joined by A.J. Green, Julio Jones and T.Y. Hilton as wide outs coming out of contract that are about to cash in.
Right now I would think Green and Jones are in line for something like what Bryant and Thomas signed for, with Jeffery closer to Randall Cobb/Jordy Nelson type money, but that may change if Jeffery has a career year and proves he's a true #1 wide out.
Cobb and Nelson are both right around 4 years/$40 million, and that's probably a number that Ryan Pace wouldn't hesitate to do. But if Jeffery takes his game to a higher level playing in the new Adam Gase offense, we could be looking at a franchise tag possibility.
Last year's tag figure for wide receivers was just under $13 million and that number will increase a bit next year. If the Bears decide they want to keep Jeffery, the franchise tag ensures they will have some time to hammer out a deal.
There's nothing to prevent the Bears and Jeffery agreeing to something at some point during the season, but we've yet to see if in-season deals are something that new GM Pace will do.
What are your thoughts on the Bears extending Jeffery? Are you OK with the wait and see approach or would you rather they sign him ASAP? Do you have any concern that they could lose him after the season?