With the deadline for the franchise tag fast approaching, many teams across the league are making critical decisions about placing that designation on their respective players.
#Bears are not expected to franchise Alshon Jeffery again at > $17M, sources say. A top WR on the market will generate lots of buzz in Indy— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 27, 2017
This decision shouldn't come as much of a surprise given that there was a growing sense that the Bears would elect to go this route with Jeffery. Chicago will have just over an excess of $52 million in salary space at their disposal in the offseason, which would have taken a significant hit if the front office had committed to placing the franchise tag on the former Pro Bowl wideout.
The 26-year-old will likely draw plenty of attention on the free agent market from several teams that could very well include the Los Angeles Rams, who have lacked a true No.1 wide receiver for the past several years. Los Angeles will have around $40 million in salary cap space, which is more than enough financial flexibility to be a serious bidder for his services.
Through his first five seasons in the league with the Bears, Jeffery has established himself as one of the premier wide receiver talents. However, he has dealt with problems with his health over the last couple of years. He saw a noticeable drop in production in the 2016 campaign hauling in 52 catches for 851 yards and two touchdowns as he was limited to just 12 regular season games due to a four-game suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy.
Despite that, Jeffery has shown in the past that he can perform at an elite level as he recorded consecutive seasons with at least 85 catches and 1,100 receiving yards in his second and third year. According to Spotrac, his projected market value puts him at around a deal worth $46 million over four years, which could be well in the price range for the Rams to commit to a long-term contract.