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Jay Cutler happy to have “big guy” Alshon Jeffery back with team

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Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler likes seeing Alshon Jeffery back in the building, but Mike Florio wonders if Jeffery and the Bears can finally work out a long-term deal.

The Bears finally got franchise-tagged wide receiver Alshon Jeffery back in the building this week, and it’s clear that was a welcome sight for quarterback Jay Cutler.

While Cutler understands Jeffery’s absence was just about business, he also might have preferred to have his best receiver on hand, while they try to overcome the losses of key players and offensive coordinator Adam Gase, and incorporate 2015 first-rounder Kevin White into the offense after injuries stole his rookie season.

“You take a guy like that out of the offense, it’s going to be difficult,” Cutler said of Jeffery, via Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune. “I think it was a great opportunity for Kevin and Eddie [Royal] and some of these other guys to kind of grow in their position and get a little bit better.

“But it’s always good to have the big guy back out here.”

The Bears will need Jeffery at his best, after losing Gase, running back Matt Forte and tight end Martellus Bennett this offseason, and shuffling the offensive line significantly.

But it was also hard to know how much of Jeffery was available to him last year, as he struggled through injuries. Jeffery only played in nine games, and though his numbers in those nine games were good (54 catches for 807 yards and four touchdowns), he clearly wasn’t himself.

“Last year was such a marred year,” Cutler said. “It’s hard to gauge him as a player off that because he was in and out and dealing with injuries. Each and every game, you weren’t for sure if he was 100 percent. You didn’t really know until he kind of got going how he felt.

“Just being more consistent in that area. I think that’s kind of his focus. Making sure physically he can go 16 games. Because if we’ve got him 100 percent for 16 games, he’s going to do some damage.”

Of course, Cutler also doesn’t know how long he’ll have Jeffery available to him, as reports suggest a long-term deal is unlikely, and that the receiver is expected to just play out the year. But at least he’s signed and back with the team after skipping the voluntary work, and that’s good news for Cutler as he adjusts to many other things.