Under Jerry Angelos direction as general manager, Vincent Jackson was to be among the first wide receivers pursued by the Bears when free agency opened this offseason. Angelo is gone but Jackson is not -- the San Diego Chargers elected not to use their franchise tag on Monday to sequester him -- and the exact direction new GM Phil Emery will follow for help at wideout, well, he isnt exactly saying.
The problem for the Bears is that Dwayne Bowe received the franchise for the Kansas City Chiefs, Emerys old team before his move to Chicago. Wes Welker, not high on the Bears list, is the tag choice for the New England Patriots.
But the Bowe tag tightens the free-agent market in exactly an area of high interest to the Bears. It doesnt mean that Jackson or New Orleans Marques Colston or Indianapolis Pierre Garcon wont be a Bear before months end. It does mean, however, that the price will be every bit of the 10-11 million per season that Jackson has sought.
Establishing a price is an inexact science. The Buffalo Bills, not ruled out as a team considering Jackson, paid Stevie Johnson an average of 7.25 million for five years in their deal with him. That will not get Jackson to Chicago, and probably not Colston, for that matter, although the 6-foot-4 Saints receiver is not expected to command the market share of Jackson or Bowe, had the latter been available.
The market doesnt official open until next Tuesday but conversations are the norm in the NFL and the Bears will be in more than a few of them.