It’s difficult to acquire top talent in free agency, largely because the players’ present team doesn’t allow them to leave, either signing them to an extension or applying the franchise tag.
That might not be the case with at least one player this offseason.
There is a chance Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery hits the open market, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
The assumption that Chicago would at least use the franchise tag does not hold weight, and there have been no reported contract talks.
Jeffery, a 26-year-old playmaker drafted 45th overall in 2012, has twice surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving mark in his four-year career.
In 2013, his only Pro Bowl season, he made 89 receptions for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns. A year later, Jeffery went over 1,000 yards again, this time reeling in 10 touchdowns.
The issue with Jeffery is his durability.
He has started a full slate of 16 games just once since entering the league. Jeffery dealt with hamstring, calf, groin, and shoulder injuries in 2015 alone. He was also on the team’s injury report with a general illness.
He’s missed 20 potential starts over four seasons, and has been held out of 13 games altogether. When the wide receiver did play through injury, at times it was on a pitch count.
The Bears have had an above-.500 record only once during Jeffery’s tenure.
#Bears tidbit: Assumption has been they'll tag WR Alshon Jeffery. I'm told no decision has been made & there's a chance he hits the market— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 19, 2016