Bears reportedly won't franchise tag Alshon Jeffery, so what's next?

Bears reportedly won't franchise tag Alshon Jeffery, so what's next?'s Insider Ian Rapoport dropped a news bomb in the middle of the night, Tweeting in the wee hours of Monday morning that the Bears will not sign receiver Alshon Jeffery to a franchise tag:

Jeffery played under the franchise tag in 2016, when he earned roughly $14.6 million. 

The Bears could still re-sign Jeffery to a longer deal in free agency, but the market on the 27-year-old receiver may climb out of their desired range.

The $17 million franchise tag was an awful lot of salary cap to spend on a guy who has missed 11 games over the last two seasons to injury and a PED suspension that stretched to four games in 2016.

When he was on the field last year, Jeffery turned in his worst stat line since his rookie season, catching only 52 balls for 821 yards and 2 TDs.

Still, his departure would leave a gaping hole in the Bears receiving corps as Cameron Meredith and Kevin White would emerge as the leaders of the group.

Meredith went undrafted out of Illinois State, but he has impressed in his two pro seasons, leading the Bears in receptions (66), targets (96), yards (888) and TDs (4) in 2016.

White was the Bears' first-round pick in 2015 (7th overall) but has played in just four games due to leg issues and has only 19 catches for 187 yards and 0 TDs under his belt.

David Kaplan believes if Jeffery does depart Chicago, it sends a bigger message about the state of the Bears:

Madden 21 rating release: Bears' Cole Kmet ranked top rookie tight end

Madden 21 rating release: Bears' Cole Kmet ranked top rookie tight end

Bears tight end Cole Kmet is the highest rated rookie tight end in this year’s installment of Madden.

EA has slowly released the newest ratings for the popular video game franchise throughout the week.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Bears news and analysis.

Kmet received a 70-overall rating in Madden 21, due in large part to his wide-ranging abilities. In fact, he doesn’t lead all rookie tight ends in many categories, just pass blocking, awareness and trucking (the ability to run over a would-be tackler). However he ranks near the top in many other categories, like catching, strength and jumping.

Kmet was the first tight end off the board in the 2020 draft when the Bears selected him with the 42nd-overall pick.

Last season at Notre Dame, Kmet caught 43 passes for 515 yards and six touchdowns.

The full list of Madden 21 ratings will be released Friday. The game itself will be available on Aug. 25.

RELATED: Madden 21 rating leaks: Chicago Bears Top-10 overall rated players


2020 Bears training camp preview: How important is a fast start?

2020 Bears training camp preview: How important is a fast start?

Very important! 

If that feels facile, you're right! It is. But Bears camp is supposed to start in two weeks and they don't know 1.) who their quarterback is and 2.) if they'll even play. Let's keep the simple things simple. 

On paper, in mid-July, the Bears' first quarter of the season looks like a real opportunity – if not an advantage. Opening in Detroit will be tougher than anyone in Chicago wants to admit, but Nagy's had success there already and it's not like the stands will be packed with football-starved fans operating on eight beers and a renewed sense of optimism. Games against the Giants, Falcons, and Colts round out the first month, two of which (NYG, IND) are at Soldier. If the Bears are as talented as they want us to believe, there are obviously 2-3 wins in that stretch. 

The problem, of course, is that seemingly on every level, no one knows what's going on. To say it's a mess is putting it mildly. Take the AFC East, where three team facilities are located in areas with the least amount of coronavirus transmission while the fourth is literally in the pandemic's epicenter: 

If the NFL marches on with the 2020 season – be it blindfolded at full-speed or adjusted and maybe centralized – it'll do the Bears a great deal of good to pile up wins quickly. Their schedule definitely doesn't get any easier as it goes along. But the fact of the matter is that there may not even be games – this year's calendar was designed specifically to allow for a delayed/shortened season – and there almost certainly won't be fans; home field advantage, except maybe for kickers, went out the window. 

If the Bears end up playing the front 9 (or technically 8 I guess?), they've obviously got to win the majority of them. Look no further than last year, when three straight wins revived the Bears season and had them sitting at 7-6. The last hurdle between them and a miraculous postseason berth? Road games in Minnesota and Green Bay with a matchup against Pat Mahomes to boot. Had they won those (very) winnable games earlier in the year against the Raiders, Rams, and Chargers, they probably don't have to stake their playoff hopes against Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers in back-to-back weeks. 

So, as it stands on July 16th, the uncertainty doesn't really lie in whether the Bears should win those early season games, but if they're even going to play them at all. 

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