Cole mentions that the two parties are just too far apart in contract talks, which means it’s likely Jeffery will play out the season under the franchise tag before testing the open market in 2017.
According to Cole, Jeffery has chosen to stay away from the team and workout on his own, instead of continuing to work with his teammates in offseason workouts. Cole says that the Bears still want to see more from Jeffery in 2016 before they consider signing him to a long-term extension.
This fits with what Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune wrote earlier in the week, which is that it’s a “near certainty” Jeffery will play out the 2016 season under the franchise tag. Wiederer added that there have been no indications that the Bears will push to get a long-term deal done with Jeffery this summer.
Bears GM Ryan Pace has said that there has been an open line of communication with Jeffery’s representatives. Pace referred to conversations Jeffery’s reps as “cordial” and “productive.”
Locking up Jeffery now could force the Bears to offer him a similar contract to the agreements signed by Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas and A.J. Green last year. The problem for Chicago is that it’s hard to say Jeffery deserves to be in the group of receivers.
It’s probably a wise move for the Bears to wait on locking him up, even if it costs them big money in the end. At least they would have a better idea of what Jeffery is capable of in their offense at that point in time.
Jeffery, 26, was taken in the second-round of the 2012 NFL draft by the Bears. He played out the the final year of his four-year, $4.54 million rookie contract that included a $1.74 million signing bonus before receiving the team’s franchise tag.
The franchise tag will run the Bears $14.599 million guaranteed for the 2016 season.
Jeffery’s 2015 season ended with him appearing in nine games and recording 54 receptions for 807 yards receiving and four touchdowns. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 10 receiver out of 119 qualifying players.
We’ll have more regarding a long-term extension for Jeffery as the news is available.