Alshon Jeffery did not have the contract year he was hoping for. The wide receiver was expected to be the No.1 target for Jay Cuter after the trade of Brandon Marshall and while he was, injuries kept him off the field more than on it. That is the case for the final game of the season as Jeffery heads to injured reserve with an uncertain future.
The Chicago Bears confirmed that Jeffery was done for the year after being placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. The receiver will have missed seven games this season in a year he was supposed to be the best on offense. His injury paired with the season-ending injury to Kevin White certainly hurt the Bears this year and now Chicago must determine just how much Jeffery is worth moving forward.
According to John Mullin of CSNChicago.com, the Bears are interested in retaining Jeffery for the future, but determining his worth will be tough. The receiver is currently ranked eighth in receiving yards and 10th in receptions in franchise history, but injuries have been a big issue. Jeffery is entering the prime of his career which means he has time to continue moving up. However, is he worth the type of contracts that Julio Jones, Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas signed in 2015?
Mullin writes that the injuries are a red flag, but not a huge issues. The Bears do have their franchise tag they can easily use to retain Jeffery for one season. That is expected to be worth upwards of $14.5 million for the one season. The fact is the Bears need Jeffery. Receiver depth was a big issue this season. Next year they will have White healthy to pair with Jeffery in order to give Cutler the best two options to throw to.
"I think when he was out there he was very productive, much like he's been earlier in his career," head coach John Fox said, via CSNChicago.com. "That's how I'd assess it. There's obviously work to be done this offseason with everybody, not just Alshon. We'll kind of focus on Detroit right now and we'll have plenty of time to worry about the offseason."
Fox is right to say there is a lot of work that needs to be done. Matt Forte is another player on an expiring contract. The running back told the media via ESPN.com that he did not think he would be returning to Chicago next season despite wanting to play there for his entire career. With Jeremy Langford behind him, Forte could be on the outside looking in.
The same can be said for Martellus Bennett who ended his year on injured reserve and could find himself released. Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com reports that nothing is certain with Bennett right now who complained during the year about his role on the team. He is signed through 2016 while wanting a new deal. Dickerson reports the Bears will not give him a new contract. There is a trade market for the tight end if they decide to go that route. Bennett could return in 2016 or the Bears could try and get some value for him on the market.