The Chicago Bears are negotiating with wide receiver Alshon Jeffery to sign a long-term contract, but the franchise tag remains an "option," according to Chicago Tribune reporter Brad Biggs. The Bears are expected to retain Jeffery no matter what, though, as they will not let him walk this offseason, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
"I sense he wants to be here," said Bears general manager Ryan Pace, via Briggs' Twitter account. "We're the team that drafted him. He loves the city of Chicago."
The Bears used a second round draft pick on Jeffery in the 2012 NFL Draft, and he has developed into a star wide receiver in the league after just four seasons.
The Bears will reportedly use the franchise tag if no deal is in place by the deadline next Tuesday, as most teams will wait until the deadline to see if they can work out a contract prior to using the tag. It seems clear that the Bears aren't willing to let Jeffery test the free agent market and that they want him to remain in Chicago for years to come.
The 6-foot-3, 216-pound wide receiver struggled to stay healthy in 2015 but still managed 54 receptions for 807 yards and scored four touchdowns in nine games. The Bears never got to see their first round pick wide receiver Kevin White in action last season, and Chicago's front office is likely hoping to have a dynamic tandem of receivers with White and Jeffery next season.