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Free Agency 2017: Bears will not use Franchise Tag on WR Alshon Jeffery

With ten days left before free agency officially begins, one of the biggest free agent names in the NFC North has a little bit of clarity on his status.

Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

In his five-year NFL career, Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery has posted some impressive numbers. Although those stats have dipped a bit in the past two seasons, thanks in large part to some injury issues, Jeffery has consistently averaged over 1,000 yards per 16 games and has provided a big, physical presence at wideout for the Bears.

Jeffery played the 2016 season on the Franchise tag, which paid him $14.6 million. However, he missed four games, three in the middle of the season and one more in week 17. If the Bears were to keep Jeffery around on a Franchise tag for a second straight season, his salary would be 120% of last year’s deal, or about $17.5 million.

As a result of that massive price tag, Ian Rapoport of reported on Monday morning that the Bears are electing not to use the tag on Jeffery, instead allowing him to be available on the open market as of March 9th.

On the free agent Market, Jeffery’s value will be interesting to watch. Despite the injuries, he has been extremely productive, and at the age of 27 he will likely cash in with a long-term deal. One estimate from Spotrac predicts that Jeffery’s contract will come in around 5 years and $61 million.

Jeffery has played in all ten Bears-Packers games over the past five years, and he has had varying levels of success. Arguably his best performance against Green Bay came in week 14 of 2016, when he caught six of nine targets for 89 yards and a score. All told, Jeffery has averaged four catches and 54 receiving yards per game against the Packers, though those numbers increase to 4.9 catches and 66.5 yards per game when excluding his rookie season. He also has never eclipsed the 100-yard mark against the Packers.