The Bears announced Tuesday that wide receiver Alshon Jeffery has signed his franchise tag tender.
The franchise tag comes with a $14.599 million price tag — the average salary of the NFL's five highest-paid receivers — for Jeffery's services during the 2016 season. Last Monday the Bears used the "non-exclusive" tag on Jeffery to keep him off the open market.
Jeffery and the Bears have until July 15 to negotiate a long-term deal. The two sides met at last month's NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, but weren't able to dot the i's and cross the t's at the time. If a long-term deal isn't finalized by the deadline, Jeffery will be eligible for free agency again next winter.
The 26-year-old Jeffery battled through various soft-tissue injuries last season and appeared in just nine games. Jeffery still led the Bears with 54 receptions for 807 yards and four touchdowns.
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“The thing about it is the previous two years, he remained healthy,” Bears general manager Ryan Pace said at the Combine. “Last year he had a series of injuries. I think we’ve got a great sports [medicine] team around him with Jen [Gibson] and Nate [Breske] and Jason George.
“I’ve said this before: I think being in Year 2 with a player helps a lot just understanding his body and his body mechanics. I know him and his agent are doing some things, too, to improve on that. When he gets back, we’ll have a plan in place. It’s important.”
Jeffery, the Bears' second-round selection in the 2012 NFL Draft out of South Carolina, has appeared in 51 games across four seasons with Chicago. He's amassed 252 receptions for 3,728 yards and 24 touchdowns. Jeffery garnered Pro Bowl honors in 2013 after recording 89 receptions for 1,421 yards and seven scores.